Brazil to break drug patents

This had to happen one day. After AIDS infections in the country has reached alarming levels, Brazil health organizations have found the monopolistic pricing of Multinational drug companies, impossible to sustain. Therefore the country has taken the position that they have to break patents to lift the country out of misery.

India has recently introduced product patents which is going into effect from Jan 1 2005. The immediate repurcussion of this is going to felt in a few months (till existing stocks are cleared) as medicine costs countrywide are going to zoom up. According to this article:

Oxfam give a range of examples of the staggering differences in price between patented and generic drugs. Zantac, used to treat gastric ulcers, costs between 15 and 50 times more in the US and Europe than its generic version made in India. When WTO rules are applied in India, drug prices could rise by an average of 250 percent as a result of patenting.

The article quoted above sums things up very nicely.

The laws of the capitalist market are incompatible with a defence of the universal right to health care and the enjoyment of the benefits of medical science by the mass of the world’s population.

Did you know that:

Every day, 30,000 people in the developing world die from treatable diseases – many because they can’t afford the medicines that could keep them alive!

The present patent system is ridiculous. Why is it that regardless of the scope and type of an invention, a flat monopoly for 20 years given to the inventor? The decision to set 20 years as a patent duration would definitely have been based on what is acceptable profit by the inventor. It would be interesting to know the logic of determining that.

Think about it, the present patent policy is saying “it is ok for people to die of AIDS for the next 20 years, because we have to let this so-and-so company to earn X amount of money in that duration.”. Taking the case of Zinetac and AIDS, isnt it obvious that one can live with indigestion for 20 years, but not AIDS? How can patents for both these medicines be set for the same duration - twenty goddam years!!!

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