How can a policy foster local pharmaceutical production and still protect public health? Lessons from the health-industry complex in Brazil

Glob Public Health. 2018 Apr;13(4):489-502. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2017.1396354. Epub 2017 Nov 3.


The global health community is increasingly advocating for the local production of pharmaceuticals in developing countries as a way to promote technology transfer, capacity building and improve access to medicines. However, efforts to advance drug manufacturing in these countries revive an old dilemma of fostering technological development versus granting access to social services, such as healthcare. This paper explores the case of Brazil, a country that has developed large-scale health-inspired industrial policies, but is, yet, little understood. Brazil's experience suggests that progressive healthcare bureaucrats can create innovative practices for technology and knowledge transfers. It also demonstrates that highly competitive pharmaceutical firms can collaborate with each other, if a government provides them the right incentives. Reforming regulatory policies is crucial for guaranteeing high-quality products in developing countries, but governments must play a crucial role in supporting local firms to adapt to these regulations. These findings send a strong message to global health policymakers and practitioners on the conditions to create a suitable environment for local production of medical products.

Keywords: Brazil; Local pharmaceutical production; health policy; industrial policy; pharmaceuticals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brazil
  • Drug Industry / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations*
  • Policy*
  • Public Health*


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations