My friend Mara Kardas-Nelson wrote an excellent piece in the Mail & Guardian on Brazil’s continuing fight against intellectual property laws that make the cost of second and third line HIV treatment unaffordable for public health programmes. Darunavir and Raltegravir (key third line drugs) each cost $5000 per year in Brazil… and there are 6000 people that need each drug in the country. So Brazil is trying to make changes to its intellectual property laws so that it is more in line with the World Trade Organisation agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (Trips) in 1996 — which gives countries greater flexibility, when it is in the national best interest, to issue compulsory licences that allow for the importation of low cost generics.
Brazil’s government is coming under a great deal of pressure from the brand-name pharmaceutical industry, and the governments in the US and EU to keep the more stringent intellectual property measures in place. Similar battles are being fought globally, in India and South Africa, (for more, see Mara’s piece here).
In addition, the US is purportedly now trying to include highly restrictive intellectual property constraints in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement — which is currently being negotiated in secret. More on that in a later post.