Keywords: Brazil, compulsory licensing, Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, TRIPS, HIV/AIDS, antiretrovirals, ARV treatment, generic drugs, government policy, HIV drugs, AIDs
Brinkmanship and compulsory licensing policy lessons from Brazil
Approximately 660,000 Brazilians were living with HIV/AIDS in 2003, with an adult prevalence of 0.7%. Brazil currently provides free antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for 158,000 people, which is 40% of the total people on free ARV treatment globally. Brazil also produces 8 out of the 14 drugs required for its national AIDS treatment programme. In an increasingly restrictive Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) environment, multiple factors political, legal and socio-economic have enabled Brazil to take advantage of the threat of compulsory licensing. Today, Brazil is not only one of the main producers of generic drugs for HIV/AIDS, but it also has a successful government-administered programme. As United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan noted recently, 'Brazil is one of the few countries where programs to combat the epidemic are succeeding'. Brazil has improved access to HIV drugs by strategically exploiting the exceptions under the TRIPS agreement, thus offering valuable lessons for countries combating HIV/AIDS.