A Consortium in Times of Crisis: Producing Brazilian Sofosbuvir? (2014–2017)
In 2014, as Brazil entered a severe economic, financial and political crisis, a new class of antiviral medicines for hepatitis was put on the market at unaffordable prices. The civil society organizations that had led the struggles for access to HIV/AIDS medicines since the 1990s urged the government to invest in the local production of sofosbuvir and called for the cancellation of the patent owned by Gilead Sciences. Three private laboratories coordinated their technological and industrial capabilities to produce a generic medicine. In 2016, a consortium was formed, coordinated by the private company Microbiologica, which had become, in 1992, the first to copy AZT in Brazil. Microbiologica had also contributed to the development of sofosbuvir in the early 2000s, in collaboration with the US company Pharmasset and had mastered the technology perfectly. As soon as the patent is declared invalid by the Brazilian National Industrial Property Institute (INPI), the Brazilian consortium will be able to produce the drug and supply it to the Ministry of Health. Once again, in the context of the Brazilian crisis, this story mobilized the industrial and civil society actors set up to produce HIV/AIDS medicines in the 1990s and now involved in the local production of molecules to treat hepatitis C, which affects two million people in Brazil.
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