WSJ Online/Harris Interactive Health-Care Poll: Majority Would Allow Poorer Nations To Break AIDS-Drug Patents, Poll Shows

by Beckey Bright
Published at The Wall Street Journal Online

Sixty-one percent of U.S. adults believe poorer countries should be allowed to break companies’ patents on HIV/AIDS drugs if doing so would help them treat more of their population, according to a new poll.

When asked specifically about a recent move by Brazil to break the patent on an AIDS drug made by Merck & Co. and provide a generic version instead, 57% said they were in favor of the country’s decision, while 20% said they were opposed, the Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive health-care poll found.

Thirty-three percent of those polled said they believe that ignoring companies’ patents on HIV/AIDS drugs hinders the development of new drugs, while 40% said they disagree. The poll of 2,246 adults was conducted online June 11-13.

Three-quarters of respondents said programs that teach about and distribute condoms will be most effective in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS. But half said they agree that the best way to prevent thespread of HIV/AIDS is through programs that teach abstinence.

Forty percent of Americans think the global HIV/AIDS epidemic has worsened in the last five years, down from 58% who said they felt that way when asked the same question in 2004. In the latest poll, 16% said they felt conditions have gotten better, while 32% said things have stayed about the same.

Poll excerpt:

“Brazil recently announced that they will break the patent of an HIV/ AIDS drug and purchase a generic version against the wishes of the drug’s patent holder. Do you favor or oppose Brazil’s decision?”

Strongly/Somewhat favor (NET)——- 57%
Strongly favor————————– 23
Somewhat favor———————— 34
Strongly/Somewhat oppose (NET)—- 20
Somewhat oppose——————— 13
Strongly oppose———————— 7
Not sure——————————— 23

See full results of poll here.