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Drug companies sue South African government over generics

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.322.7284.447 (Published 24 February 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:447
  1. Pat Sidley
  1. Johannesburg

    More than 40 pharmaceutical companies, many of them the world's largest and most powerful companies, will be taking the South African government to court to try to stop it enacting legislation aimed at reducing the price of medicines for South Africans.

    The Medicines and Related Substances Act of 1997 was fought strenuously by the multinational drug companies during its passage through parliament. As it was passed, the industry gave notice of its intention to have the law overturned, and in so doing effectively prevented the act coming into force.

    Although the law also seeks to regulate the marketing and distribution of medicines in South Africa, it is seen largely as a test case, with international implications, for the use of parallel importing of cheaper drugs and generic substitution for brand name drugs.

    The South African government is currently exploring changes to its Patents Act as a vehicle …

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