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Paper Topic:

Are Corporations and Patent Protection Under the TRIPS Agreement Harming the Public Health of the Developing Country of South Africa ?

Are Corporations and Patent Protection Under the TRIPS Agreement Harming the Public Health of the Developing Country of South Africa

Mohammed Alsharif

Words 3965



Studies and statistics have put the cost of one year requirement of standard essential medicines needed for the treatment of AIDS at 4000 to 6000 in developing countries like South Africa . This cost puts the medicines out of the reach of most of the people infected by HIV in the developing countries . In to make the medicines available to all the needy people

the cost should have been at least 95 percent less . The exorbitant price is because of the cost of the patents . The drugs protected by the intellectual property rights were required to treat diseases like Tuberculosis , in addition to the treatments of HIV /AIDS Such drugs also included Hepatitis-B Vaccine . There has been a continuous criticism by the social activists and other public health associations , of the action by the World Trade Organization in making the developing countries implement the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS ) Agreement which deals with the protection of Intellectual Property rights relating to the essential drugs . They have also been condemning the attitude of the multinational companies in indulging in excessive lobbying to insist on the implementation of the IP rights protection which will have the effect of enhancing their earnings by charging exorbitant prices for the drugs and for putting the essential drugs and health care beyond the affordability of scores of people in the developing nations including South Africa

However under such circumstances the relationship between the government of South Africa and the international pharmaceutical companies had not been a conducive one - thanks to the implementation of the provisions of TRIPS Agreement . On the decision of the South African Government to pass the Medicines and Related Substances Amendment Act in the year 1997 , 39 drug companies joined to initiate legal action against the government The plea of the drug companies is that the Act gave too much freedom of action to the Health Minister and he acted beyond the legitimate interpretation of TRIPS . It was the endeavour of South Africa to make life saving drugs available at affordable prices . The country wanted to effectively utilize the compulsory licensing opportunities opened by TRIPS so that the prices of the drugs could be put under check . But since the action of the government posed a threat to the earning capacity of the international pharmaceutical companies they went to the extent of entering into litigation with the government of South Africa

1 . Introduction

TRIPS (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights ) under the authority of the WTO were founded to protect worldwide intellectual property rights . The agreements , governing not only more general intellectual property rights but also those of the pharmaceutical industry , are fairly stringent causing many problems for developing countries especially South Africa which is being ravaged by epidemics which includes AIDS

According to a statistical survey by United Nations 20 percent of the...

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