Drug Patents, Struggles for Access, and Public Interest in Brazil and India

By Maurice Cassier, Marilena Corrêa

"In the early 1970s, Brazil and India enacted laws that placed pharmaceutical products outside the patent system. This legislation made the copying of therapeutic innovations licit and thus allowed for the development of a local generic medicines industry. Following the 1994 WTO agreements, the two countries applied the new intellectual property standards and adopted the system of 20-year medicine patents; Brazil in 1996 but India only in March 2005. This article examines the status change of pharmaceutical inventions from a public good regime to an exclusive private good regime, and the rising tide of struggles, through and over the law, to limit the extension of monopolies on medicines. The globalization of medicine patents was met with a globalization of struggles over access to treatment, initially in the context of the Aids AIDS epidemic and then, more broadly, over access to therapies for neglected and chronic diseases. To study this change of in the intellectual property regime, the article follows a chronological line and looks at the multiple circulations between these two countries that constructed a South-South globalization. JEL codes: O34, L65, I18, K41, L31"


  • intellectual property rights
  • drugs
  • government policy
  • public health
  • litigation process
  • NGOs
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