Intellectual Property and Access to Essential Medicines
Elgar Intellectual Property and Global Development series
Edited by Obijiofor Aginam, John Harrington and Peter K. Yu
The global AIDS pandemic remains the greatest health challenge of the twenty-first century. The cost of HIV/AIDS is immense, above all in terms of human suffering, but also through its impact on broader human welfare and development in the Global South. Our response to the pandemic is first and foremost a matter of justice. The chances of being affected by HIV/AIDS are crucially determined by established inequali- ties of class, ‘race’, gender, geographical location and national origin. The prospects of those already affected by HIV/AIDS are similarly determined. These inequalities are man-made and man-sustained. They benefit some; they harm others. In so far as we fail to meet the challenge presented by the pandemic, we collude in and perpetuate this structural violence; we turn our backs on the insistent and pre-eminent claims of global justice. The injustices of AIDS have called forth practical responses across the range of human activity: in the natural sciences, clinical medicine, public health, education, public administration and law. The availability of essential drugs has been a central focus for these responses. With the development of effective antiretrovirals (ARVs) in the mid-1990s, public health campaigns aimed at prevention were augmented by a drive to secure access to therapy. This has been largely successful in developed countries thanks to the internal redistribution of health resources through insurance and various forms of socialized medicine. Local injustice is tempered to varying degrees in Europe and North America. That has not been the case in developing countries.