The protection of pharmaceutical intellectual property (IP) rights is one of the most controversial debates in contemporary public health as countries have to balance incentives for drug development with the necessity of providing life-saving drugs. Compliance with IP protections is mandatory for members of the World Trade Organization (WTO). However, because of the costs associated with IP implementation we should expect late and/or poor implementation in middle-income countries. Surprisingly, this was not the case in Brazil. The country not only just fully implemented the WTO's requirement but declined the grace period granted for countries to adapt and included extra IP protections, going against a coalition of local industrialists and activists. Notwithstanding, as the consequences of IP regulations unfolds, Brazil also promoted new alliances that tailored and adjusted the regulations toward public health. We demonstrate that arguments of foreign pressure and lobbying are exaggerated and call attention to domestic shifts, long-term processes of regulatory decision, and political dynamics happening at the local level. By analyzing the case of Brazil, we provide a nuanced contribution to the discussion of IP implementation in middle-income countries and call attention to new models of government-society interactions in regulatory policy.

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