Another Boost For Generics: Brazilian Judge Annuls Patent On Key AIDS Drug

from the keep-taking-the-medicine dept

Last week Techdirt reported on an important decision in India to allow the production of a generic version of a kidney and liver cancer drug, with huge savings for the Indian health system, and major effects in terms of lives likely to be saved. Now Intellectual Property Watch has news of a court case in Brazil that could have equally important consequences for the local use of generics:

Word is spreading of a recent decision by a Brazilian judge to annul a patent on a key AIDS drug, effectively allowing less expensive generic versions into the country, and calling into question other such patents.

Here’s why the case is setting a precedent:

A leading feature of the case is that the patent was granted under the “pipeline” process, which allowed “revalidation” of patents granted in other countries while Brazil was modifying its patent law for certain new areas including pharmaceuticals.

The judge in this case ruled that the pipeline process was unconstitutional, according to sources.

The “pipeline” process refers to a mechanism for granting patents in technological fields that had earlier been excluded under Brazilian law, using the date of the first filing for patents elsewhere. This allowed companies to extend the reach of patent monopolies already obtained outside Brazil without needing to go through that country’s patent application process.

Lack of constitutionality had been raised back in 2008 because of the way that pipeline patents diminished the public domain:

“The concession of pipeline patents also violates the acquired right of the collectivity by removing from the public domain knowledge belonging to everyone, which once again goes against society’s interest,” said Renata Reis, an attorney at the non-governmental Brazilian Interdisciplinary AIDS Organization.

Among the drugs that were removed from the public domain by the pipeline process is the ritonavir/lopinavir combination, the subject of the judge’s order annulling Abbott Laboratories’ patent. Not surprisingly, the company has said that it will appeal the decision. But if the ruling is upheld it may lead to other patents granted to drugs through the pipeline process being invalidated too.

Taken together with the Indian decision, this latest ruling emphasizes the increasingly important role of generics in global healthcare. That’s another reason why both ACTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement are problematic.

ACTA, for example, allows generics to be seized in transit on the basis of complaints about names that are “confusingly similar” to a brand-name drug. TPP, meanwhile, would bring in a range of measures to make it substantially harder for companies to produce generic versions of patented drugs in signatory nations. The divergence between what the BRICS countries are doing in this area, and what plurilateral treaties like ACTA and TPP seek to mandate, is another reason why it is unlikely the former will ever sign up to the latter.

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Comments on “Another Boost For Generics: Brazilian Judge Annuls Patent On Key AIDS Drug”

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50 Comments
Drew (profile) says:

Any person that will let others die so they can get richer is nothing but pure scum. I mean a waste of life they should just go us all a favor and put themselves out of our misery.

This is the problem we all have to deal with and it sucks..
The corporations patent shit just to say were the only one that can help people! Who cares if a generic is cheaper especially when it’s a drug that can actually decide how many more years you’re going to live.

I hope these scumbags get dealt with soon it’s technically genocide. They deserve death and nothing less for the countless lives they took. If there was a generic around at a fraction of the cost I’m sure there would be a lot of families that would not have been torn apart just because they’re poor.

timmaguire42 (user link) says:

Re: Re:

Yes, patents should be ignored whenever ignoring them is convenient. From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs. Right?

What’s that…did you hear that? Why, I do believe that is the Law of Unintended Consequences clearing its throat.

Shhh….everybody quiet. I think it’s about to say something…

Anonymous Coward says:

“Lack of constitutionality had been raised back in 2008 because of the way that pipeline patents diminished the public domain:”

Sadly, the public domain would be effectively empty if the drug companies and researchers were not working on it. The pipeline process was made so that things like drugs could come to market without the patent holder risking unfair competition from generic makers in the country, pending their patent system getting these areas resolved.

Now they have effectively given then Pharma companies a pig in a poke, they have entered the market, made their drugs available, the drugs have become common use, and now any generic company that wants will be able to bang them out without having to pay for the research or development.

Seems more than a little unfair.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Regardless of right or wrong, or what you think, medicine IS a business. Businesses exist to make money, not to give everything out for free because their products can benefit humanity. Many of the people in this industry go to school for years, 10+ probably if they are a doctor. They should be payed above average for putting that kind of effort in. Nobody would be a doctor or the scientist that has to put years of work into making a drug if all they would make is the same average salary everyone else with a much easier job makes.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

You need to get out of the low hanging fruit era of medicine and get into modern times. I suggest you take a nice historical look at what it took to get trials and then move those vaccuines into production back in the day, and what it would take now.

Maybe, just maybe, your eyes will open and you will understand. You might have to push Mike’s ass out of the way to see, but you can do it!

Atkray (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Get Your Priorities Straight

You say that like it is a bad thing.

I say bring it. Let the research go back to universities where it belongs and to people with a genuine interest in benefiting mankind instead of their patent portfolio.

I’m more afraid of Howie Mandel dragging me under my bed that I am of the lack of patents killing innovation. I’ve seen enough examples to know a fairy tale when I see one, and the whole “without_________(fill in your favorite IP) there will be no___________(fill in your favorite parasitic industry)” is a fairy tale.

Anonymous Coward says:

Lets just end all drug patents. That way we wont get any new drugs. I think we have enough “cures” or at least treatments. Do we really need a cure for cancer? Do we really need a cure for AIDS? Do we really need a cure for obesity? Do we really need a cure for Parkinson’s, Luekemia, Spina Bifida, Sickle Cell Anemia, Lou Gerhig’s Disease?

I garantee you that if you end drug patents or take patents away from the pharma industry you WILL see a far fewer companies willing to invest the hundreds of millions of dollars necessary to develop, test, and approve groundbreaking treatments for diseases.

Balaknair says:

Re: Re:

Ha. As a doctor, let me tell you what drugs the reps market the most(they’re also what the pharma companies spend most in developing)- the ones for lifestyle illnesses- obesity, hypertension, diabetes, insomnia, and of course the gold mine, anti-anxiety and antidepressants. These are what you’d see in more affluent people. Diseases like AIDS, TB and other ‘third world’ infectious diseases are not a high priority, you rarely find these in rich people.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Well if some AC with an agenda grantees it while hiding behind the shroud of anonymity then it must be true right? We should probably take your anonymous word for it and just accept that patents are important huh.

For future reference: putting the words ‘I garantee[sic]’ below the name ‘Anonymous Coward’ is at best humorous.

Kevin (profile) says:

If I were "Big Pharma"

If I were Abbott Labs or another “big pharma” company and read enough nonsense statements like “I think what is unfair is that people make a profit out of other people’s suffering” I would be SO TEMPTED to just pull a John Galt and go home instead of listening to this idealistic crap.

Kaletra / Aluvia cost Abbott Labs a small fortune to develop and get approved. And what if, at the last minute, a snag developed and approval could not be granted? All that money would have been gone, and that happens all of the time with medications which seem promising but never come to market.

If you take away the profit incentive to take these risks, then fewer risks will be taken and fewer new drugs will be developed. When the new-drug pipeline dries up, people will die.

The case of Kaletra / Aluvia is even more disturbing. When Abbott developed original formulation of ritonavir / lopinavir, it worked just fine. But other countries, such as INDIA, BRAZIL, and African nations went back to Abbott and said “we need a version that doesn’t have to be refrigerated, that requires fewer pills a day, and can be taken without regard to meals.” ABBOTT DID THIS FOR THEM. Spent more zillions of dollars creating this new formulation. Even produced a lower-cost version (Aluvia) for these developing nations. And now they want to take this thing that Abbott created and sell it as a generic.

Abbott Lab’s CEO is on record as being committed to the developing world. He’s a better man than I. I would probably get out of the business of developing life-saving drugs and go to the beach.

Valkor says:

Re: Re: Re: If I were "Big Pharma"

The information in question can be easily both public and obscure. Tracking down that research would require expertise both in biotech and the byzantine world or university funding, because you’d have to consider direct research for Lopinavir, and also foundational research into knowledge that made ARV drugs possible.

That said, Abbot at least used state of the art equipment provided by the United State Department of Energy at the Argonne National Laboratory – a direct contribution from taxpayers.
http://www.physorg.com/news76606766.html

Kevin Holbrook (profile) says:

Re: Re: If I were "Big Pharma"

Actually, I’m a PHYSICIAN, not an IP Lawyer. Semi-retired, work at a free / income-based clinic a couple of days a week and don’t get paid. I pay my own malpractice insurance, license fees, and other expenses in order to do so. If it were to get too expensive or require too much red tape, I would have to stop helping those patients.

I’m glad that for-profit drug companies have given me tools to improve and save lives. If they were to stop doing so, people would suffer.

Pro Tip: don’t pick my motives based on your preconceived notions.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: If I were "Big Pharma"

Don’t bother, Kevin, TechDirt is full of freetards. They think that businesses should spend billions developing drugs, movies, music, books, games, software, etc.. and then freely give them away. And that the businesses should be glad that they stole from them because someone they talk to might buy something from the buisness. That’s how the pirates are able to sleep at night – with the dream that maybe, just maybe, someone they talk to will buy from the company so they feel better about providing “free publicity”. It’s very delusional.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: If I were "Big Pharma"

So you just blindly believe that whatever the current for-profit drug companies want is good for you saving lives? Doesn’t even occur to you that maybe this narrative they’ve constructed where medicine is some kind of house of cards that will topple if drug patents are removed might be a bit overstated? No? Pitty.

Jeffrey Nonken (profile) says:

It’s all about killing and impoverishing people in the name of protecting profits.

When humanity is wiped out by a virulent plague that could have been stopped with a drug that nobody could afford, the pharmaceutical executives will be smugly counting their beans and congratulating themselves.

Oh sorry, that was melodramatic, wasn’t it?

MikeVx (profile) says:

Re: Being wiped out by a virulent plague...

When humanity is wiped out by a virulent plague that could have been stopped with a drug that nobody could afford, the pharmaceutical executives will be smugly counting their beans and congratulating themselves.

Or, we could create the new job classification of Telephone Sanitizer, and be safe from virulent plagues that manage to evade all that expensive research.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The fuck are you talking about? No one is asking big pharma to stop creating drugs. People are finding it a good thing that big pharma can’t use drug patents to shut down cheaper drugs that do the same thing and are more accessible by – you know, the people whose lives the drugs are intended to save?

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