3 May 2017
The Impact of International Legal Rules in Facilitating the Public’s Access to Medicines in South Africa
SECO Working Paper 7/2017 by Vuyisile Hobololo
ABSTRACT: This paper explores the role played by international legal treaties, conventions and agreements that are binding on South Africa, in promoting the public’s access to medicines. In greater detail the impact that the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) of 1994, the Convention on Biological Diversity of 1992, and the United States of America’s Bahy-Dole Act of 1980 have had in the development of South Africa intellectual property (IP) law is examined. In addition, a question regarding whether such international legal instruments have positively impacted the public’s access to medicines is considered. The paper concludes that compliance with international IP law rules is not a silver bullet that will solve South Africa’s challenges relating to access to medicines. The protection of the public’s right to access to medicines in South Africa is strongly dependent on the government’s political will of ensuring that IP law is implemented to serve public good and public and private pharmaceutical patent holders are held accountable regarding the socially-responsible utilization of their IP.