Before making an assessment of the likely consequences of normalisation for emerging countries, it is useful to summarise the interpretation given here of the processes currently under way:
(i) The norms associated with intellectual property will have a far-reaching impact. They are the culmination of a process which has been evolving for many years and have been formidably well managed by national and international bodies run by the innovative pharmaceutical firms. Save for the partial exception of ALIFAR in Latin America, and of some groups of local manufacturers in a few emerging countries, there would seem to be no private sector countervailing force in emerging countries. Still more significantly, these countries lack any vision or «project for the future» which could bring them to unite their efforts. The innovative pharmaceutical firms, for their part, possess a set of objectives, a strategy pointing the path to be followed, and the institutional wherewithal to turn their aims into reality.
(ii) The global move to accept standards, frequently formulated and monitored by private sector bodies, will put the domestic firms in emerging countries under permanent pressure in the future, to keep themselves up to date and follow the evolution of the sector. This pressure will be reinforced through the ever more intensive interchanges which take place internationally among scientific groups and with respect to production technologies.
(iii) For those issues of a more «national» character (pricing practices, generics, etc.), it will become progressively more difficult for national governments to sustain discriminatory policies in favour of local groups. This is due to the interlocking nature of the standards setting processes in the pharmaceutical branch, and the outstanding trends in the new international economic and political environment.
(iv) Although some emerging countries of continental dimensions (Brazil, China, India) might well be able to negotiate special agreements for themselves, it seems very likely that the possibilities of resisting any of the trends will become less over time. The playing field will become quite flat, and very similar, wherever one is located in the global system.
(v) The process very firmly must be treated from a political economy perspective. PhRMA has been ubiquitous and has repeated the same message with such a degree of success, that the very language used to discuss the issues is a reflection of that group's concerns.
The next part of the essay looks at where the standardisation may take us in the pharmaceutical arena.