LONDON South Africa's Treatment Action Campaign and its friends are crowing with delight, as 39 pharmaceutical companies this morning withdrew their lawsuit to prevent South Africa from importing inexpensive generic copies of patented AIDS drugs. They will also pay defendants' costs. The manufacturers had argued their patent rights had been infringed by the South African government three years ago. The government had claimed the AIDS epidemic is an emergency under the TRIPS international patent agreements — and so it was free to import cheap generics. The manufacturers disagreed but now they have lost the war, and won only some appalling public relations for their attitude to Third World countries.

The South African Minister of Health has assured the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) that no concessions have been made and that the government will now proceed to implement the 'Medicines and Related Substance Control Amendment Act', which led to the companies'...

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