BY: PATRICK BOND
Brewing since the advent of South African democracy in 1994 and promises of health sector transformation, an extraordinary drug war between President Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress government and U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturers took on global proportions in 1998–1999. Within months of the passage of South African legislation aimed at lowering drug prices, the U.S. government quickly applied powerful pressure points to repeal a clause allowing potential importation of generic substitutes and imposition of compulsory licensing. At stake were not only local interpretations of patent law and World Trade Organization rules on Trade in Intellectual Property, but international power relations between developing countries and the pharmaceutical industry.
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