Patent tactics

The US applies pressure over new patents law on drugs in Brazil amidst stringent criticism

Published: Sunday 31 December 1995

-- A CONTROVERSIAL pharmaceuticals patent law pushed by the Brazilian President, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, has drawn flak from critics who accuse the government of favouring giant us multinationals. That Cardoso is bypassing the Congress and passing the law directly by presidential decree, is generating heat in the country's scientific, grassroot and people's groups. Critics say that Cardoso is bowing to US pressures. Cardoso on his part, certainly seeks Bill Clinton's support for Brazil to become a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. The decree allows the ministries of agriculture, environment and health to grant laboratories exclusive licenses to produce pharmaceutical products. Currently, Brazilian legislation doesn't recognise pharmaceutical product patents, which can be freely copied by Brazil's pharmaceutical industry. Even then, 70 per cent of Brazil's pharmaceutical products are produced by multinational corporations.

One side of the battleline are the multinationals, demanding that pharmaceutical patents be recognized in Brazil, and on the other side are environmental, scientific, religious and union groups - ready to fight against the draconian law.

"With the patents, Brazil's biodiversity will be controlled only by those with enormous amount of money to carry out researches and win monopolies," wrote renowned Brazilian physicist Rogerio Cesar Cerqueira Leite in the Brazilian daily, Folha de Sao Paulo. If enacted, critics feel that the legislation could hamper scientific development in Brazil, and the country's sovereignity.

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.