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Friday, 14 September, 2001, 04:14 GMT 05:14 UK
Brazil Aids programme copied abroad
Brazil Aids drugs protests
Demand for cheaper Aids drugs sparked protests in Brazil
The humanitarian organisation, Doctors Without Borders, says it plans to use Brazil's successful campaign against Aids as a model for use in other countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Brazil, which supplies free anti-Aids treatment to about 100,000 sufferers, is reported to have cut Aids-related deaths by 40% in four years.

We want to exploit Brazil's experience. The agreement includes human resources, technology and the drugs themselves

Doctors Without Borders spokesman
The president of the Nobel Prize-winning Doctors Without Borders, Bernard Pecoul, has signed an agreement under which the Brazilian Government will sell the organisation cheap generic anti-Aids drugs.

Brazil will also assist in the establishment of anti-Aids programmes in other countries.

Correspondents say Brazil has become a leader in the anti-Aids fight, pressuring the international drug industry to lower prices or face competition from cheaper locally produced drugs.

"We want to exploit Brazil's experience. The agreement includes human resources, technology and the drugs themselves," said group spokesman Juliano Borges in Rio de Janeiro.

Model programme

Brazil's Aids programme has become a model for developing countries around the world, drastically reducing the number of Aids-related deaths.

The government has also forced price reductions from pharmaceuticals companies by breaking patents to producing eight of the 12 drugs used in the anti-Aids cocktail themselves and distributing them free of charge to patients.

Brazil has broken patents on Aids drugs

Earlier this year, the United States filed and then dropped a complaint with the World Trade Organisation over clauses in a Brazilian law that allow the government to break the patent of a drug and produce a generic version in the case of "economic abuse" or a health "emergency".

Brazilian Health Minister Jose Serra invoked that law last month when he announced that Brazil would make a generic version of the Aids drug Nelfinavir, produced by Switzerland's Roche.

He later withdrew the threat when Roche promised to slash its price by 40%.

Transferring expertise

Doctors Without Borders plans to work with Brazil to transfer the technology and expertise needed to establish similar programmes in other countries suffering under the burden of Aids.

Under a planned agreement, Brazil would sell medicines at cost to Doctors Without Borders, Mr Pecoul said.

The group also buys generic drugs from other companies like India's Cipla, and would continue to buy the medicines offered at the lowest prices.

"Today is just a letter of intent and in coming months we will try to turn it into concrete support," Mr Pecoul said.

See also:

25 Jun 01 | Business
US drops Brazil Aids drugs case
24 Apr 01 | Americas
Brazil wins Aids drugs vote
07 Nov 00 | Americas
Latin America 'faces Aids epidemic'
03 Feb 01 | Americas
Brazil in US Aids drugs row
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