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Human Rights and the WTOThe Case of Patents and Access to Medicines$
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Holger Hestermeyer

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199552177

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199552177.001.0001

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Background of the Debate

Background of the Debate

(p.1) 1 Background of the Debate
Human Rights and the WTO

Holger Hestermeyer

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the facts that called attention to the conflict between the TRIPS Agreement and access to medicine. The public discussion was initially triggered by the pricing decision of the patent holder of the first AIDS medicine AZT. It took on global proportions when the pharmaceutical industry sued the South African government that wanted to impose compulsory licences for patents on pharmaceuticals to provide its population with cheap AIDS medication. The chapter also recounts the events surrounding the anthrax attacks in the United States, when the Canadian and US governments threatened to break Bayer's patent on Cipro.

Keywords:   TRIPS Agreement, access to medicine, international patents, AZT, South Africa, AIDS, Anthrax, Cipro

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