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The Politics of Patents and Drugs in Brazil and Mexico: The Industrial Bases of Health Policies

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After introducing pharmaceutical patents in the 1990s, Brazil subsequently adjusted the patent system to ameliorate its effects on drug prices, while Mexico introduced measures that reinforce and intensify these effects. The different trajectories are due to the nature of the actors pushing for reform and the patterns of coalitional formation and political mobilization. In Brazil government demand for expensive, patented drugs made health-oriented patent reform a priority. The existence of an autonomous local pharmaceutical sector allowed the Ministry of Health to build a supportive coalition. In Mexico government demand made reforms less urgent, and transformations of the pharmaceutical sector allowed patent-holding firms to commandeer a reform project. The existence of indigenous pharmaceutical capacities can broaden the political coalitions underpinning health reforms.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2009

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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