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A recent proposal by the Brazilian government to effectively privatize its patent office has alarmed patient advocates, who fear such a move would make it easier for the pharmaceutical industry to maintain monopolies on medicines and, consequently, higher prices in one of the world’s largest economies.

In its notice, the Ministry of Economy suggested merging the National Institute of Industrial Property, or INPI, which oversees patent reviews, with another government agency to form a new public-private sector entity called the Brazilian Agency for Development and Industrial Property, or ABDPI. The goal is to create “greater efficiencies,” according to the ministry notice.

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