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June 10, 2005
Drug Patent Suspension
Over on Copyfight, Alan Wexelblat writes about the possibility that Brazil will suspend patent rights on antiretroviral drugs in order to afford the fight against the AIDS plague (Patent Suspension? Or Let Them Die?). I sympathize with Brazil's position. However, such an action treats only the symptom, not the cause. If Brazil (and other nations facing similar tragedies) do this, it is not cost free. It effectively shifts the costs to patients in nations, primarily the US, that pay full freight. This is hardly equitable for those suffering from AIDS at the bottom of our economy. We need a comprehensive solution.
Perhaps patent suspension can be part of the spur to a comprehensive solution, but it doesn't seem (to my knowledge) that this is being addressed by either side in the debate. For example, if Brazil were to suspend the patents, shouldn't they then spend some of the money saved on research for the next generation of drugs? Such research has to be paid for somehow.
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