Legislation & Licenses in Brazil
Brazil’s National Congress is currently weighing changes to a controversial measure known as compulsory licensing. The approach allows a country to override intellectual property protections and manufacture patented medications without the manufacturer’s approval.
While Brazil’s laws already allow compulsory licensing, the legislature’s newest efforts would expand those capabilities. They would also add an unprecedented provision – requiring manufacturers to turn over trade secrets to aid the country’s unauthorized production of a given medication.
That particular measure was omitted September 2 through a partial veto from President Jair Bolsonaro. He also removed bill language that would have allowed compulsory licensing for COVID-related medications and vaccines and would have enabled compulsory licensing to proceed purely through legislative action, without the president’s consent.
But the resulting Law nº 14.200 is now back with the National Congress, whose final decision on which provisions go and which stay could have implications for patients across Brazil in the years to come.
What Compulsory Licensing Means for Patients
While compulsory licensing seems like a promising shortcut, the approach can have several drawbacks for patients.
For example, Brazilians once waited two years from the time a compulsory license was issued to the time when the medications in question actually became available. In another instance, drugs produced under a compulsory license in Brazil wound up costing 25% more than the original.
Brazil’s policymakers would do well to consider more thoughtful, long-term solutions for their constituents.
Over the long term, reduced innovation handicaps patients, who find they have fewer cures and treatment options at their disposal.
Policy For the Long Term
Few international events have highlighted the need for medical research and innovation like the COVID-19 pandemic has. As Brazil’s policymakers continue to navigate complex public health challenges, they might consider not only how they can brave this pandemic but also how they can position the nation to serve the needs of patients in all the years that follow.