Ecuador is encouraging its national laboratories to increase production of pharmaceuticals without regard to licenses or patents.
President Rafael Correa says national law and international treaties give Ecuador the right to ignore patents "in the name of human health."
Correa said on his Saturday radio show that the incentives are designed to increase domestic production of medications, which now represent about 22 percent of drug sales, and the use of generic drugs.
Patents protect drug companies from having their products copied and marketed by others for a specific period of time. The drugs can be marketed openly after the patents expire.
Swiss drug giant Novartis and the pharmaceutical association couldn't be reach for comment Saturday.