It is a reality that the development of a country is intimately related with the innovation generated within. We would be able, without any fear of being mistaken, to state that Industrial Property, and particularly patents, represent one of the most important motors of social and economic development in Latin America.

In Mexico, the chain of access to medicaments of last generation established by the public health sector could not be feasible without the participation of the large pharmaceutical industries, which constitute the first link of this chain. It is also true, however, that these industries are hardly criticized when the topic of the high costs the final user of the molecules must cover in order to have access to them during the valid period of the patent that protects them is addressed.

Where is then this thin line between the feasible access of the health public sector and the benefit of the pharmaceutical industries?

The answer clearly represents the most controversial point regarding pharmaceutical patents. On one hand, it is indispensable that innovators receive a satisfactory reward for the contributions they make to society, and in order that they continue on the path of innovation. On the other hand, there is the always controversial position that patents do not allow society to have access to a public health service of quality because the commercial benefit is always placed above the basic social needs.

Taking into account that an average of 12 to 15 years can pass from the filing of a patent all the way to its grant, and up to obtaining the health registration to commercialize a new molecule, it would be logic and even understandable, that a company would sell its product at an elevated price in order to recuperate an investment of millions of dollars in a lapse of maybe five years,.

Nonetheless, the time will always come when, ,a patent expires, and the molecule(s) that were protected by said patent. will be sold at prices accessible to all individuals through the presence of generic medicaments,, which finally represents the patent major value for a society.

At this point the following questions appear: What would happen to the access of the public health sector to innovative medicaments without the presence of the major industries performing the research and development of new drugs?, What would happen if, on the basis of a strict regulatory framework, innovators were granted a greater exclusivity period in exchange of a drop in prices of their novel molecules?, and finally, Are the current Latin American Intellectual Property systems effective enough to satisfy this access to health/business ratio?

In the case of Mexico, a recent wave of over 30 active principles protected with a patent, have been released to be manufactured and sold as generics. This wave will now produce in the Mexican society that effect of beneficial access to health since costs of such active principles will be reduced from 30% up to 70%, and will generate approximately three thousand three hundred and forty million pesos for the next 4 years in public finances according to data from the Federal Committee for Protection against Health Risks (COFEPRIS). Among the recently released active principles are sildenafil (erectile dysfunction), atorvastatine (control of cholesterol), gemcitabine and bicalutamide (cancer); pioglitazone (type II diabetes) and olanzapine (schizophrenia).

Clearly, the health of individuals constituting a society must be the real motor that drives all actors of a pharmaceutical industry. However, even in these fundamental health topics, it is undeniable that, as in any industry, economical issues will play a decisive role to be taken into consideration in the pursuit of this balance

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