University of São Paulo: Breaking patents on medicines represents an important step towards access to public health

The project that disciplines compulsory licenses for immunizers and medicines during the pandemic was barred by President Jair Bolsonaro. With that, Congress must analyze the presidential veto. Let’s understand the consequences of this veto for the country and especially for the population that depends on public health.

To begin with, it is good to clarify the term “patent infringement”, the correct one is “compulsory license”. Every patent needs to be registered with a body that regulates intellectual property. In Brazil, it is valid for a maximum of 20 years, as explained by Professor Calixto Salomão Filho, head of the Commercial Law Department at the University of São Paulo Law School, a specialist in Intellectual Property and Patents, who helps us understand what is a patent and how it works.

The breach of patent is positive because it makes the formula of a drug to be in the public domain, allowing several laboratories to manufacture and, with that, lower the cost.

Professor Calixto recalled that the first case of compulsory license or patent breach in Latin America occurred in Brazil in 2007, during the government of President Lula, with a drug for the treatment of AIDS.

compulsory license
Sanitary physician Gonzalo Vecina Neto, from the Department of Health Policy and Management at the USP School of Public Health, believes that compulsory licenses represent an important step towards access to public health.

He emphasizes the importance of having a public policy to break patents so that the population has access to medicines. More than that, it is necessary that there are places that can produce these medicines so that, in this way, it is possible to definitively stop importing medicines. The absence of a public policy in the area makes Brazil pay very high prices for medicines that we do not have access to.