The Political Contradictions of Incremental Innovation in Late Development: Lessons from Pharmaceutical Patent Examination in Brazil

Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 12 Aug 2011

See all articles by Ken Shadlen

Ken Shadlen

London School of Economics and Political Science

Date Written: August 2009

Abstract

This paper examines the political contradictions of neo-developmental patent regimes, which aim to foster wide use of knowledge by local actors while also encouraging incremental innovations. I use the case of pharmaceutical patent examination in Brazil to illustrate the political tensions inherent to such a strategy. Pharmaceuticals have been patentable in Brazil since 1997, and in 2001 the Brazilian government introduced a supplementary measure for vetting pharmaceutical applications that is intended to weed-out trivial modifications and ensure that only innovative products and processes receive patent protection. Though widely celebrated as an example of health-oriented patent policy, the Brazilian experience has been fraught with difficulties and tensions. The evanescence of coalitional support illustrates the political challenges endemic to neo-developmental patent systems. In particular, I focus on two sources of coalitional fragility: bureaucratic isolation and the ambivalence of key constituents.

Suggested Citation

Shadlen, Kenneth C., The Political Contradictions of Incremental Innovation in Late Development: Lessons from Pharmaceutical Patent Examination in Brazil (August 2009). APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1449086

Kenneth C. Shadlen (Contact Author)

London School of Economics and Political Science ( email )

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London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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