Populations and Genetics: Legal and Socio-Ethical Perspectives

By Bartha Maria Knoppers | Go to book overview

Pharmaceutical Patents and Benefit-Sharing:
Evolution of Drug Accessibility in Brazil Since the
1980’s

M. B. Marques

Oswaldo Cruz Foundation: Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro – Brazil


Introduction

Over the past three decades, we have witnessed the growing recognition of a deep inequity in the world populations’ access to medicines. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), developing and lessdeveloped countries, comprising 80% of population, participate in only 20% of global pharmaceutical drugs sales.1 International discussion on this imbalance recurrently converges on the alleged negative influence of intellectual property rights (IPR) – especially patents – on prices of medicines, impeding the access of the underprivileged. The lack of research and development (R&D) into drugs to treat diseases of the poor has been systematically recognize as a key element in the persistence and deepening of this global inequity: only 10% of global health research is devoted to conditions that account for 90% of the global disease burden.3 Here, benefitsharing can be equated to humanness and solidarity for all, as opposed to inequity and unfairness. Nevertheless, when referring to DNA sampling, present concerns over benefit-sharing allude almost exclusively to the unregulated way in which – attending to scientific research and/or commercial purposes – genetic material and the associated traditional knowledge of local communities and indigenous groups has been collected. Since 1992, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) has been interpreted as a means of bringing about equity and justice worldwide, although focusing on the benefitsharing policy as an issue to be defined by national law.4 The CBD does not provide legal rights to local and indigenous communities over their traditional knowledge about genetic resources.5 The World Trade Organisation’s (WTO)

Bartha Maria Knoppers (ed.), Populations and Genetics: Legal and Socio-Ethical Perspectives. ©2003 Koninklijke Brill NV. Printed in the Netherlands.

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