Keywords: access to medicine, patents, price, competition law, developing countries, right to health, global trade rules, patent rights, essential medicines, excessive pricing, drug availability, drug affordability
Global trade rules, competition law and patent rights: competition law and access to medicines
Approximately two billion people in the world lack regular access to essential medicine. Worse, in parts of Africa and Asia, about 50% of the population lack access to essential medicine. Thus, more than seven years after the adoption of the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health, Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome ('AIDS'), together with malaria and tuberculosis, are still wrecking havoc in the world and millions still lack access to essential medicine. This paper examines how competition law can be and is being used to address the problem of excessive pricing in some developing countries. In countries like South Africa, India and Thailand, competition law is proving useful in addressing the access problem. The author argues that because competition law aims to protect competition and the competitive process and also protect consumers from deceptive, unfair or anticompetitive conduct, it can be an effective mechanism in addressing the problem of drug availability and affordability.