Intellectual Property, Pharmaceuticals and Public Health

Intellectual Property, Pharmaceuticals and Public Health

Access to Drugs in Developing Countries

Edited by Kenneth C. Shadlen, Samira Guennif, Alenka Guzmán and N. Lalitha

This up-to-date book examines pharmaceutical development, access to medicines, and the protection of public health in the context of two fundamental changes that the global political economy has undergone since the 1970s, the globalization of trade and production and the increased harmonization of national regulations on intellectual property rights.

Chapter 6: Corporate Power and State Resistance: Brazil’s Use of TRIPS Flexibilities for its National AIDS Program

Matthew Flynn

Subjects: development studies, development economics, law and development, economics and finance, development economics, health policy and economics, political economy, law - academic, intellectual property law, law and development, politics and public policy, political economy, social policy and sociology, health policy and economics


1 Matthew Flynn Brazil provides one of the most unique cases for exploring the impact of intellectual property on sustaining a social program based on social democratic principles. In 1996, Brazil passed legislation mandating the state to provide expensive anti-retroviral (ARV) medication to its citizens who have contracted the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Also in 1996, Brazil was one of the first countries to change its domestic patent laws as a result of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS), one of the pillars of the global trading system governed by the newly created World Trade Organization (WTO). In terms of both TRIPS and universal AIDS treatment, Brazil was ahead of its time. The country subsequently became one of the first countries to begin resorting to the use of the humanitarian safeguards outlined in the TRIPS accord. Specifically, Brazil began using compulsory licenses to drive down the price of medicines. By allowing other producers to enter the market, this legal device allows states to remove the market exclusivity a patent holder retains to set monopoly prices. A close review of the Brazilian experience with the TRIPS accord and use of its flexibilities provides insight into the different forms of corporate power and state resistance related to intellectual property (IP). Brazil’s experience with using TRIPS flexibilities reveals the importance of institutionalizing a universal public health system and construction of state 1 This chapter is based on original field research involving over 50...

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