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Published on 22 June 2009

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Venezuela may axe patents on drugs


The world’s leading drugmakers may boycott Venezuela after it announced plans to ignore pharmaceutical patents and allow domestic manufacturers to produce cheap generic alternatives.

Edgar Salas, boss of the country’s pharmaceutical chamber of commerce, has warned that invalidating patents may prompt top manufacturers to ban exports to Venezuela.

He and fellow industry leaders warned that this would mean no new drugs entering the country, which would cause shortages and scare off foreign investment.

But says commerce minister Eduardo Saman: “Patents have become a barrier to production, and we cannot allow barriers to the access of medicine or transnational medicine companies to impose their rights on the Venezuelan people.”

He said the decision is intended to put the needs of Venezuelans suffering from diseases such as cancer or AIDS ahead of the interests of powerful drug companies.

Saman, a close confidant of President Hugo Chavez, said that existing intellectual property laws would be used to annul patents on some unspecified medicines.

Copyright Press Association 2009


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