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This spring, Alexandre Padilha was one of several Brazilian lawmakers who introduced a bill to permit the government to temporarily suspend any and all patents for medical products that could be used to fight Covid-19, as well as any future public health emergency declared by Brazilian authorities or the World Health Organization. The proposal arrived amid mounting angst over access to Covid-19 medical products, which has prompted a growing number of countries to consider compulsory licenses. These permit a public agency to work with a generic drug maker to copy a patented medicine without the consent of the brand-name company that owns the patent. Whether the Brazilian government will embrace the bill is uncertain. The government recently refused to sign on to a proposal from India and South Africa that urged the World Trade Organization to suspend all patents on medicines, vaccines and products to combat Covid-19. We asked Padilha about why he pushed this bill and also about his concerns over access to medicines.  

Why do you believe Brazil needs a law to issue compulsory licenses for Covid-19 medical products?

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