The president-elect of ABPI, Gabriel Leonardos, participated, this Wednesday, 01, in the webinar promoted by UNIRIO on patents in the pharmaceutical industry and access to healthcare. The event, moderated by Professor Ricardo Sichel, had as a guest speaker the public health physician Gonzalo Vecina Neto.

Founder of ANVISA, Vecina Neto criticized the country’s lack of a social policy for access to health and defended the provision of compulsory licensing for the production of medicines in the event of public health crises. But he admitted that Brazil lacks industrial capacity. “The problem with compulsory licensing is how to manufacture the product. What is deposited at a patent agency does not allow a copy of the product to be made, only reverse engineering”.

Vecina Neto considers the licensing negotiated between governments and industry viable, which, according to him, is already happening. “One of the opportunities is individual agreements, such as licensing for poor countries. On the African continent, for example, some laboratories are helping these countries to develop their industries”. According to him, multilateral organizations, such as the WHO, have proved inadequate to deal with the current pandemic. “Access to medicines is the critical issue today,” he said.

Leonardos, who acted at the event as a debater, also defended a negotiation with the industry to facilitate access to medicines by the population. He mentioned the voluntary license and, in mandatory cases, the compulsory license, provided for by law. “It will not be through decrees or ordinances that Brazil will solve the problem of access to health, but with an industrial policy,” he said. “The compulsory license, even, can even be a bargaining tool that the State must use when necessary”.

Without debate, the president-elect of the ABPI explained that there is no choice between access to medicines and intellectual property. And he gave the example of Great Britain, “where there is an efficient healthcare system and strong patent protection”. For Leonardos, in Brazil the lack of access to healthcare is linked to low industrial capacity and the frank process of deindustrialization in the country, accelerated in the 1990s. “In 1980, we had the 6th largest industrial park on the planet; in 2019 we had already dropped to the 19th position”, he pointed out.