Brazil’s Patent Law reform: public hearing at the House of Representatives

Brasilia, October 21st, 2015 – Last October 20th there was a public hearing on the current patent law reform in Brazil. The hearing took place in the Committee on Constitution, Justice and Citizenship (CCJC) of the Chamber of Deputies in Brasilia.

The patent law, which defines the conditions under which monopolies on medicines are created and maintained, is currently being reviewed. On the one hand it represents an opportunity to strengthen pro-health mechanisms, but it could also mean major setbacks. It all depends on the priorities defined by CCJC deputies: either public or private interest.

According to National Congress studies, the patent system is unbalanced and needs to be adapted for it to favor public interest. This unbalance is dramatic, since excessive rights and benefits are granted to patent owners which imply an extension of market monopolies and, therefore, high prices on essential medicines that represent a direct threat to free medicines distribution policies and public purchasing policies. In this way, the extention of patent rights and the patent system abuse weaken the right to health.

The hearing was attended by GTPI/REBRIP (Workgroup on Intellectual Property from the Brazilian Network for People Integration), MDIC (Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Commerce), ABPI (Brazilian Association of Intellectual Property), ANPEI (National Association for Research and Development of Innovative Companies), Fiocruz (Oswaldo Cruz Foundation) and ABIFINA (Brazilian Association of Chemical Industry and Biotechnology).

The organizations that support the adoption of the patent law’s reform provided data and evidence (see GTPI’s presentation) showing that the current patent system has not generated innovation but actually has enabled and protected patent holders’ abuses, allowing them to establish high prices and barriers to access to medicines in Brazil. Only ABPI and ANPEI reject the reform in a clear defense of patent owner’s interests.

Several congressmen presented arguments against the abuses of the Brazilian patent system and set public health as a State priority, including Erica Kokay (PT / DF) and Alessandro Molon, who propose public hearing requirements (Red / RJ). On behalf of PLs, Andrew Moura (PSC / SE) presented arguments in favor of a reform that defends public interest. However, soon after the hearing, he was requested to reconsider the decision. It is clear that pharmaceutical companies have been lobbing to defend their private interest, so we must be alert and defend the public interest and the right to health.

A transcript of the public hearing is available here (Portuguese).

Read more here (Portuguese).