AIDS drugs manufacturers drop case

Today 39 pharmaceutical companies unconditionally dropped their case against the South African government. A turning point in the case may have been persuasive evidence that the companies have no economic basis for the huge prices they charge for AIDS drugs.

Robert Walgate(walgate@scienceanalysed.com)
Apr 18, 2001

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'...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?