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The Brazilian Supreme Court ruled that a provision in the country’s intellectual property law allowing lengthy extensions on patents is unconstitutional, a move that is expected to clear the way for lower-cost generic versions of some drugs to become available sooner.

The decision came in a closely watched case that has pitted the pharmaceutical industry and consumer advocates against each other in a fight over the Brazilian patent system and the extent to which many prescription drugs are affordable. Studies have found that revoking the provision would help reduce government spending on medicines and reduce hurdles faced by the generic drug industry.

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