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Journal of Health Care Finance. 2010; 36(4):75-79.When the United Nations declared "health care for all" (at the conferences at Alma-Ata in 1978 and the Ottawa Charter in 1986),(1) the declarations were largely premature to impact the upcoming HIV/AIDS epidemic. These UN declarations still apply today, as multitudes of humanity continue to die from what amounts now to be a treatable chronic disease. Can the wealthier, industrialized countries stand by and watch the decimation of the populations of the developing world by HIV / AIDS? The global "health 9/10 gap," relates that only 10 percent of global heath resources go to developing countries - i.e., those having 90 percent of the poorest world populations. (2) The World Bank/World Health Organization has been at the forefront of providing resources for the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, (3) but for many countries of the developing world (especially Sub-Saharan Africa) it may be too little, too late. This work explores the application of an ecological model to global policy against HIV/AIDS, highlighting access to antiretroviral drugs (ARV). ARV distribution is constrained by patents and laws protecting the intellectual property rights of the international pharmaceutical corporations. In response to this situation, more questions arise. Will governments in the developing world invoke compulsory licensing (patent-breaking) in their negotiations with the international pharmaceutical corporations to provide medications against HIV/AIDS in their countries? Can international political and financial negotiations with these pharmaceutical corporations speed the growing push for a solution to this solvable crisis? The answers may lie in the "Brazilian model," that is a developing world government using all means available to provide ARV drugs for all its citizens with HIV/AIDS. The basis of this model includes negotiating with the pharmaceutical corporations over patent rights and importation of copied drugs from the Far East.
The role of civil society in protecting public health over commercial interests: lessons from Thailand.
Lancet. 2004 Feb 14; 363(9408):560-563.In October, 2002, two Thai people with HIV-1 won an important legal case to increase access to medicines. In its judgment in the didanosine patent case against Bristol-Myers Squibb, the Thai Central Intellectual Property and International Trade Court ruled that, because pharmaceutical patents can lead to high prices and limit access to medicines, patients are injured by them and can challenge their legality. This ruling had great international implications for health and human rights, confirming that patients—whose health and lives can depend on being able to afford a medicine—can be considered as damaged parties and therefore have legal standing to sue. The complexities of pharmaceutical intellectual property law are most poorly understood by those most affected by their consequences—the patients who need the drugs. The Thai court case was the outcome of a learning process and years of networking between different civil society actors who joined forces to protect and promote the right of access to treatment. Our Viewpoint, based on key interviews and published reviews, summarises the efforts of civil society in Thailand to achieve a fair balance between international trade and public health. These efforts have focused on didanosine, an essential antiretroviral drug that in Thailand has become symbolic of how multinational companies and governments of industrialised countries protect their own interests at the expense of access to essential medicines for the poor. (author's)