Ethics And AIDS Drugs

Some countries want to suspend patent and trade laws to get lower-cost medications to the poor

The latest drug cocktails may soon downgrade AIDS from a death sentence to a chronic disease--in countries that can afford the typical $15,000 annual cost per patient. But what about the cash-starved developing world, which currently accounts for nearly 90% of new HIV infections? It's an issue that countries like South Africa and Thailand are struggling with. And a growing number of government health ministers and AIDS activists are proposing an unusual solution: rip off the drug companies.

They're not really stealing, of course, but that's the way U.S. drug companies--backed by Uncle Sam--view a tactic being employed in South Africa...

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