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Business Words in the News
Friday 24 August 2001
Vocabulary from the business news. Listen to and read the report then find explanations of difficult words below.

Brazil to break AIDS drug patent
Summary: Brazil may become the first country in the world to break a patent on a drug used to treat AIDS when it manufactures its own version of the drug. The Swiss drugs company, Roche, which owns the patent has said that it is surprised by the decision. This report from Elizabeth Blunt:
The News Listen  

Although the initial response from Roche was restrained, the company is now seeing one of its worst commercial nightmares coming true. Dozens of third world countries would like to be able to make their own versions of expensive, patented anti-AIDS drugs, but only a few have pharmaceutical industries with the ability to do it, and markets big enough to make the exercise worthwhile. Brazil, like India, is among only a handful of countries which pose a real threat to the drug companies' monopoly, and their profits.

Although the World Trade Organisation rules protect the drug companies' patents, they do allow some leeway to poor countries facing serious health emergencies.

Roche has given no indication yet of whether it would take Brazil to court, but the WTO rules are complicated and they're hedged around with conditions. A company spokesman said that the drug in question has a US patent, and so Brazil had an obligation to consult the United States. He said the company would now be checking exactly who had done what and why, before it decided on any further action.



The Words Listen
calm, controlled

  seeing one of its worst nightmares coming true
if your worst nightmare comes true, the worst possible thing happens

connected with the industrial production of medicines and drugs

worth doing

  a handful of countries
a small number of countries

  pose a threat
threaten (formal)

  drug companies' monopoly
control of the market by the drug companies

a patent is an official right to be the only person or company to make and sell a new product

  allow some leeway
are more flexible, enforce the rules less strictly

  hedged around with conditions
are not very specific, are rather unclear


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