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