The Political Economy of HIV/AIDS in Developing Countries
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The Political Economy of HIV/AIDS in Developing Countries

TRIPS, Public Health Systems and Free Access

Edited by Benjamin Coriat

The book is based on original data and field studies from Brazil, Thailand, India and Sub-Saharan Africa. Focusing on the issue of universal and free access to treatment (a goal now taken to heart by the international community), it assesses the progress made and presents a rigorous diagnosis of the obstacles that remain, especially the constraints imposed by TRIPS and the poor state of most public health systems in Southern countries. In so doing, the book renews our understanding of the political economy of HIV/AIDS in these vast regions, where it continues to spread with devastating social and economic consequences.
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Chapter 5: Technology Transfer Agreements and Access to HIV/AIDS Drugs: The Brazilian Case

Amélie Robine


Amélie Robine The AIDS pandemic has raised the question of access to medication in developing countries to an international level. Sub-Saharan Africa contains the highest share of people living with HIV/AIDS, with 63 per cent of the world total, but poor countries do not have the financial, human or material resources to provide treatment for their patients. Besides classical strategies of international charity (drug donations, procurement funding mechanisms and so on), local production of drugs has been proposed as a means to achieve long-term independent access to antiretrovirals. But local production requires manufacturing capabilities in the pharmaceutical sector. Because developing countries, traditionally, did not adopt intellectual property (IP) systems or excluded pharmaceutical products from patentability, the development of drug industries in these countries was based on the copying of patented drugs. Today, with the changes that have occurred in the international legal context, they have to implement other strategies. The incorporation of IP into international law, and particularly international recognition of drug patentability within the TRIPS agreement, now prohibits use of the copying strategy. Otherwise, the producers could be sued for patent infringement: generic copies, de facto legal in the past, as long as they were not exported to countries in which the drugs copied were under patent protection, are now banned. To produce legal generics, developing countries have either to wait until the brand-name drugs fall into the public domain or to impose compulsory licensing. And so in order to build local drug production, they adopt different...

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