Authorization to break patents on vaccines against

President Jair Bolsonaro (no party) has until next Thursday (2) to sanction PL 12/2021, which authorizes, on an emergency basis, compulsory licenses (popularly called breaking of patents) of health supplies in situations of health emergency.

With almost 580 thousand deaths, Brazil is responsible for 10% of the total deaths by covid-19 in the world, although it is only 2.7% of the global population. For specialists, the need for booster doses of the vaccine makes the enactment of the law crucial for fighting the pandemic.

Today, in Brazil, the vaccines of the laboratories Sinovac/Instituto Butantan, Astrazeneca/Oxford/Fiocruz, Pfizer and Janssen are in use. The Sputnik vaccine, by the Russian laboratory Gamaleya, is being produced in the country by União Química, but it has no authorization from Anvisa for use by Brazilians.

Even so, the country did not reach 30% of its adult population vaccinated with the full cycle (two doses of immunizing agent, with the exception of Janssen, a single dose). For a safer environment, the country would have to have immunized 80 to 90% of its adult population with both doses.

“With the slaughter we are experiencing, pressured by the variants that reduce the effectiveness of vaccines and the need for booster doses, sanctioning PL 12/21 is urgent”, says Pedro Villardi, coordinator of the Working Group on Intellectual Property (GTPI) and the Brazilian Interdisciplinary Aids Association. The GTPI brings together specialists and civil society entities, working at the intersection between the right to health and intellectual property.

Several entities are taking a stand this week for the sanction of PL 12/21, without vetoes, by the President of the Republic. If you do not determine the sanction or veto the document, the bill will be tacitly sanctioned. If there are vetoes, they can be discussed and overturned in the National Congress, which would require more time for the PL to become law.

Villardi highlights that the compulsory license is a mechanism that has already been used in Brazil. The first and only use of this mechanism was in combating HIV. In 2007, the government compulsorily licensed one of the drugs in the anti-AIDS cocktail, Efavirenz, reducing the price of the drug to a third of what was negotiated by the US laboratory.

PL 12/21 modernizes this mechanism, placing Brazil at the forefront of the issue. If the law is enacted, the country may issue compulsory licenses for medicines, vaccines, diagnostic tests and supplies necessary for the production of drugs, such as the API (Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient), one of the products that caused delays in the production of immunizing agents in the country. . The government should draw up a list of drugs of interest, with the participation of civil society and experts.

“Few companies that control the global production and distribution of vaccines for Covid-19. These companies do this through patents, a title that guarantees them a monopoly of at least 20 years. The effect of this is that, instead of generating global immunity, we generate nine new billionaires in the world”, pointed out Villardi, referring to the new profits of the pharmaceutical companies. With the temporary break, companies would still maintain profits, but more restricted.

portrait of inequalities

Felipe de Carvalho, coordinator of the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) Campaign in Brazil, recalls that the pandemic paints a painful picture of global inequalities, in which only a small portion of richer countries have managed to institute mass vaccination.

For him, the world is hostage “of price increases and an excessive control of the ‘formula’ of vaccines by few large companies, even though they have absorbed this knowledge from institutions and public investments.”

“The response to covid-19 has just begun. Much still needs to be done to integrate regular vaccination, testing and treatment strategies into the routine of health systems. Compulsory licensing needs to be thought of as a pillar to support these health strategies”, said Carvalho

“The origin of so many imbalances lies in the way intellectual property rules are designed and applied. A fact recognized by more than 100 countries, from the USA to China. There is consensus that more knowledge sharing will save more lives. With the sanction of PL12/21, Brazil can lead by example”, projects the coordinator of Doctors Without Borders.

Source: BoF Pernambuco

Edition: Vanessa Gonzaga

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