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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.


As a result of the decision, all pharmaceutical patents that were granted with an extension will lose the additional time, and no other pharmaceutical patent can be granted with an extension. The decision is also retroactive, which means the terms of patents that have already been extended will be curtailed. The protection on a patent will now be restricted to 20 years from the time it was granted.

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