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Medicines and Related Substances Control Amendment Act, 1997


South Africa's Medicines and Related Substance 1997Edit


In an effort to combat the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic, the Government of South Africa enacted the Medicines and Related Substances Control Amendment Act in 1997.[1][2] The Act aimed to both reduce the cost of drugs and increase their availability.[2]

Challenge to the LawEdit

In February 1998, the South African Pharmaceutical Manufactures Association and forty Multinational Corporations (MNC) brought a suit against the government of South Africa for its passage of the Medicines and Related Substances Control Amendment Act No. 90 of 1997, arguing that it violated the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.[3][4] The intent of the Act was to reduce drug prices by allowing generic substitution of off-patent drugs, the parallel importation of on-patent drugs as well as price transparency.[4] In agreement with the suit, the United States (US) and European Communities (EC) threatened economic sanctions.[4] However, HIV/AIDS activists successfully contested this, demonstrators alleging that then United States presidential-candidate Al Gore was killing babies in Africa—and forced the US and EC to back off the South African government.[4] As a result of immense international pressure, including from NGOs such as Oxfam,[5] the pharmaceutical companies dropped their case in April 2001.[4][6]


  1. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-01-05. Retrieved 2012-07-15.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link), Medicines and Related Substances Control Amendment Act of 1997
  2. ^ a b Duane Nash, “South Africa's Medicines and Related Substances Control Amendment Act of 1997,” Berkeley Technology Law Journal 15 (2002): 485-504
  3. ^ Sidley, Pat (24 February 2001). "Drug companies sue South African government over generics". BMJ : British Medical Journal. 322 (7284): 447. ISSN 0959-8138. PMC 1119675.
  4. ^ a b c d e 't Hoen, Ellen (2002). "TRIPS, pharmaceutical patents, and access to essential medicines: a long way from Seattle to Doha". Chicago Journal of International Law. 3 (1): 27–46. ISSN 1529-0816. PMID 15709298.
  5. ^ Mayne, Ruth (1 February 2001). "South Africa vs. the Drug Giants: A challenge to affordable medicines". Oxfam - Policy & Practice. Retrieved 24 May 2018.
  6. ^ Sidley, Pat (28 April 2001). "Drug companies withdraw law suit against South Africa". BMJ : British Medical Journal. 322 (7293): 1011. ISSN 0959-8138. PMC 1120171.