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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 97, Issue 6, pp I15–I18 | Cite as

Expanding Drug Access in Brazil

Lessons for Latin America and Canada
  • Jillian Clare Cohen
Article

Abstract

This paper discusses Brazil’s efforts to provide essential medicines for its population while meeting international trade obligations. In the 1950s and 1960s, Brazil’s pharmaceutical industry was largely overtaken by foreign companies. To counteract this, Brazil enacted a law in 1971 that allowed the production of patented drugs in order to provide affordable medicines, encourage research and development, and reduce dependency on imports. Eventually, pressure from the United States government (through tariffs and sanctions) drove Brazil to introduce pharmaceutical patent laws. Local interests prevailed, however, through Brazil’s liberal interpretation of the TRIPS Agreement, which included a provision that pharmaceutical products must be “worked” or manufactured locally or the government could turn to the use of compulsory licensing. Brazil’s willingness to use the threat of compulsory licensing compelled drug companies to lower HIV/AIDS drug prices substantially. Finally, the paper discusses how Canada can facilitate improving drug access in Latin America through helping Brazil expand its role as a manufacturer and providing medicines to countries without manufacturing capabilities.

MeSH terms

Drug access essential medicines TRIPS Agreement Brazil Canada 

Résumé

Cet article porte sur les efforts du Brésil pour offrir des médicaments essentiels à sa population tout en respectant ses obligations commerciales internationales. Durant les années 1950 et 1960, l’industrie pharmaceutique brésilienne a été en grande partie supplantée par des sociétés étrangères. Pour contrer ce mouvement, le Brésil votait en 1971 une loi autorisant la fabrication de médicaments brevetés afin d’offrir à la population des médicaments à prix abordable, d’encourager la recherche-développement et de réduire la dépendance du pays envers les importations. Par la suite, sous la pression du gouvernement des États-Unis (qui avait imposé des droits de douane et des sanctions), le Brésil déposait un ensemble de projets de loi sur les brevets pharmaceutiques. Les intérêts locaux eurent cependant préséance en raison de l’interprétation libérale, par le Brésil, de l’Accord sur les ADPIC (aspects des droits de propriété intellectuelle touchant au commerce), dont l’une des clauses prévoit que les produits pharmaceutiques doivent être «exploités» ou fabriqués localement sans quoi le gouvernement peut recourir aux licences obligatoires. La volonté manifestée par le Brésil de se prévaloir de cette clause a astreint les compagnies pharmaceutiques à réduire considérablement le prix de leurs médicaments contre le VIH et le sida. À la fin de l’article, il est question des moyens pour le Canada de faciliter l’accès aux médicaments en Amérique latine en aidant le Brésil à développer ses capacités de fabrication et à approvisionner en médicaments les pays qui n’ont pas d’industrie pharmaceutique.

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pharmaceutical Sciences, Leslie Dan Faculty of PharmacyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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