[OPE-L] Working Paper on IP in Brazil, Mexico

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Mon Jan 07 2008 - 12:28:17 EST

Date: Mon, 7 Jan 2008 10:55:16 -0500
From: GDAEAnnounce@tufts.edu
Subject: New Working Paper on IP in Brazil, Mexico

The Politics of Patents and Drugs in Brazil and Mexico: The
Industrial Bases of Health Activism

GDAE Working
Paper No. 07-05


Ken Shadlen

To comply with their international
obligations, both Brazil and Mexico introduced regimes for pharmaceutical
patents in the 1990s. While both countries initially implemented
intellectual property (IP) systems that favored the interests of the
transnational, innovation-based pharmaceutical sector, the two countries
paths have diverged in dramatic fashion in recent years. In Brazil, the
government responded to the high price of drugs and societal demands to
reform the IP system by making it more difficult to obtain private
ownership over knowledge and by increasing the rights of third parties to
access and use knowledge. In Mexico, the response to similar demands has
been to raise impediments to third parties’ rights of access and use
and effectively to extend the periods of protection granted to

GDAE Research Fellow Ken Shadlen explores these
differences from a political economy perspective. In Brazil, the
combination of a strong, interested, and active Ministry of Health and a
more autonomous local pharmaceutical sector created a propitious
environment for initiatives to reform the IP system. In Mexico, the
subordination of the Secretariat of Health and fundamental transformations
of the local industrial sector meant that calls to reform the IP system
were not well-received. Instead, the reform project in Mexico became
commandeered by IP owners and ultimately had the perverse effect of
reinforcing and strengthening the system that was being challenged.

The paper concludes by underscoring the importance of
pharmaceutical industries for development. The findings suggest that the
existence of independent pharmaceutical sectors may not just be beneficial
for industrial development, but also for promoting public health and
pursuing humanitarian goals. The key factor for explaining efforts to
reform patent systems to increase access to drugs is the presence of an
autonomous national pharmaceutical industry that is available as an
alliance partner for those pushing for such reforms. Thus, the key to
IP-for-humanitarianism is maintenance of some degree of

GDAE Working Paper No. 07-05 http://www.ase.tufts.edu/gdae/Pubs/wp/07-05PoliticsOfPatents.pdf

For more on GDAE’s Globalization and Sustainable
Development Program: http://www.ase.tufts.edu/gdae/policy_research/globalization.html

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