Merck to lower prices of HIV drugs for Africa
March 7, 2001 1:22 PM   Subscribe

Merck to lower prices of HIV drugs for Africa It's not perfect and it's not much of a decrease, but it's a start and long overdue.
posted by gsh (4 comments total)
Isn't the power to stop drug companies from unreasonably enforcing patents in the face of a frightening epidemic a GOOD reason to have organizations like the WTO?
posted by jazzbo at 1:54 PM on March 7, 2001

posted by mblandi at 2:38 PM on March 7, 2001

Jazzbo, without the WTO, how would Merck enforce what it considered a patent violation if that violation were legal under South African law?

I think the WTO's TRIPS Agreement is, on the whole, a sensible document -- my concern is that the US is lobbying for more stringent restrictions than those currently in place. But we went around on this one on a previous thread.

Merck's drawing the line at giving Brazil price discounts, so Brazil's probably going to enact compulsary licensing. But good for Merck -- even if they were doing this to avoid seeing their patents (legally) ignored, this is still a good thing.
posted by snarkout at 3:56 PM on March 7, 2001

I agree with jazzbo. This is exactly why we need the WTO. As an organization it can be put to use for good or evil, but it's far better to have some organized way of manageing these situations than to have nothing. The WTO is essencially a structure for governing international business. Without it, disputes will be settled by whoever has the most money and power bullying the others into agreement.

This doesn't negate the importance of reform within the WTO, which still needs to be made more transparent and more accountable.

I think we can applaud Merck for doing the right thing here. Now if they'd just drop the lawsuit against the manufacturers of generics, they could almost be forgiven...
posted by Loudmax at 3:19 AM on March 8, 2001

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