An Expensive Chronic Illness (04:51)
Jaco de Luz, age 8, was diagnosed with Type I diabetes. A drug provided by the state for free failed to stabilize his insulin and his doctor prescribed Lantus, secured temporarily through a children's health clinic. His mother struggles to afford the treatment.
Universal Healthcare Mandate (02:59)
Brazil's public health system covers 840 prescription drugs for the most common illnesses but Jaco's medicine is not on the list. His mother Angelica can fight for access in court; the state pays for legal representation for low income citizens.
Fight for AIDS Treatment (02:51)
Since the 1988 constitution, tens of thousands of people have fought for access to free prescription drugs in court. Nahir Brito is HIV positive; she won the legal right to new antiretroviral drugs in 1996— saving her life.
Negotiating a Price Reduction (03:16)
To provide free access to HIV drugs, in 1998, Health Minister Jose Sera changed Brazilian patent law allowing breaches in cases where public finances cannot cover costs. State laboratory director Eloin Pinero proved generic antiretrovirals could be produced, and pharmaceutical companies dropped prices.
Breaking Patents for Social Welfare (02:35)
In 2001, the U.S. threatened Brazil with trade sanctions on behalf of pharmaceutical companies. Sera facilitated a U.N. treaty ensuring access to HIV drugs among developing countries— saving thousands of lives.
Center for Resolution of Legal Health Disputes (04:21)
Public defender Susana de Caroy helps low income Brazilians access prescription drugs not provided by the state. She refers Angelica to another hospital to exhaust all generic insulin alternatives to Lantus, before taking Jaco's case to court.
Popular Pharmacies (04:45)
Brazilian citizens demand constitutional healthcare rights, but the state cannot afford all prescription drugs. "Popular" pharmacies distribute affordable medication for hypertension, diabetes and asthma. Ana Maria picks up blood pressure pills for her mother.
Productive Development Partnerships (02:31)
Generic drugs cost 35% less at popular pharmacies. Brazil's state producer Farmanguinhos supplies nearly half the healthcare system's medications. It partners with multinational pharmaceuticals that transfer production after three years of brand sales.
Accessing Medication (03:57)
Daniela da Silva suffers multiple sclerosis; the SUS-supplied drug Avonex does not work for her. Hear about the process of filing a court order for Gilenya, a brand name alternative enabling her to function.
Search for Healthcare Equity (03:04)
By 2013, patient lawsuits for specialty medications cost 4.6% of the federal drug budget. Judge Maria Senos defends citizen rights to sue for equal access under Brazil's universal healthcare mandate.
Biosimilar Drugs (04:05)
A judge has rejected Jaco's lawsuit for affordable access to Lantus; Susana's team is appealing the decision. Eloin Pinero compares Brazil's fight to produce generic biotherapeutic drugs to the struggle for HIV antiretrovirals.
Denied Access to Diabetes Medication (03:42)
Activist Gupta Kumar petitions pharmaceutical companies to allow generic biosimilar production, but regulators claim generic versions may be dangerous. Jaco's lawsuit for access to Lantus has been rejected; he is taking generic insulin and suffers side effects.
Ongoing Fight for Universal Healthcare (02:33)
Brazil struggles to meet constitutional promises amid rising healthcare costs. Senos holds its AIDS antiretroviral program as an example of success. Daniela was granted access to Gilenya; her multiple sclerosis symptoms have improved and she has returned to university.
Credits: Brazil’s Real Drugs War: The People’s Health (00:30)
Credits: Brazil’s Real Drugs War: The People’s Health
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