The Boys from Brazil

The government of Brazil has announced that it will defy drug patents and produce it’s own AIDS drugs. Sounds like a blow against Big Pharmaceuticals for the little guy, right? Hardly. This decision is a very bad one, and shows that the Brazilian government, which was applauded by the UN for their anti-AIDS work, is seriously out of line. Pharmeceuticals, especially AIDS treatments, are expensive to develop and take years to refine and test before they can be given to patients. By violating these patents, Brazil is reducing the pool of money for research by manufacturer of the drug, Roche. This means that the next AIDS treatment might not get made. Not only that, but the manufacturer will have to shift costs for the already completed development of this drug to other nations, driving up the prices elsewhere.

Not only that, but Brazil’s notion of free AIDS treatment for all infected citizens is the wrong approach. In order to effectively combat disease, be it cholera, AIDS, or cancer, you need to focus on prevention. The Brazilian government would be far better off to reduce the rates of casual sex in their country, encourage abstinence or at least safer sex, and reduce drug use. There is no cure for AIDS, and there may not be for some time. Letting the people of Brazil contract an incurable disease than only providing treatment is irresponsible and inhumane. Preventing the spread of AIDS takes more than just a few pills, it takes a change of attitude and personal responsibility.