The political economy of the intellectual property rights regime : Aids and the generic medicine debate in South Africa

Bester, Juan (2002-03)

Thesis (MA)--University of Stellenbosch, 2002.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis is a descriptive and interpretive study into the political economy of intellectual property rights, the conceptual and practical implications for the phenomenon of global governance, and how developing countries experience problems with the implementation of national policies that infringe on international intellectual property rights. The specific area of interest is the generic medicine debate that ensued in South Africa after the alleged violation of patent rights of anti-HIV/Aids drugs by the Department of Health. The research question that is addressed is to what extent has the existing international intellectual property rights regime been influenced and/or undermined by South Africa's intended application of WTO regulations in terms of compulsory licensing and parallel imports of "essential" medicines. In doing so, the paper examines the roles of the important states, international organisations, institutions, and private sector firms within the sphere ofthe political economy of intellectual property and how they impede upon or improve the functioning of the intellectual property rights regime. The methodology entails analytical inquiries into documentary evidence on the nature of the international intellectual property rights regime. Areas that are examined are the agendas of the important actors, namely states and their respective departments; individuals and firms; and international organisations. The concept of intellectual property is examined to determine its dynamic role within the generic medicine debate. The thesis concludes that the agendas of pharmaceutical firms and states are exploiting current political stalemates in the negotiations for a fair intellectual property rights regime. National health agencies, and specifically the South African Department of Health, are under enormous pressure to provide affordable health services. Specifically, the US Government and US pharmaceutical firms are dominating discussions on the architecture of the international intellectual property law regime. By using an analysis incorporating systemic, domestic interest, institutional, and ideational perspectives, it is argued that South Africa's drive for a more distributive intellectual property rights regime has placed the issue of health, Aids and generic medicine firmly within the sphere of the political economy of trade agreements.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie tesis is 'n deskriptiewe en 'n interpretiewe studie oor die politieke ekonomie van intellektuele eiendomsregte, die konseptuele en praktiese implikasies vir die verskynsel van globale regering, en hoe ontwikkelende lande probleme ervaar met die implimentering van nasionale beleid wat internasionale intellektuele eiendomsregte aantas. Die spesifieke area van belang is die generiese medisyne debat wat onstaan het na die beweerde skending van patentregte van anti-HIVNigs medisyne deur die Departement van Gesondheid. Die navorsingsvraag wat beantwoord word behels die omvang van die impak van Suid- Afrika se voorgenome toepassing van WTO bepalinge, met betrekking tot die verpligte lisensiering en parallelle invoer van "essensiele" medisyne, op die bestaande internasionale intellektuele eiedomsreg regime. Hierdie tesis ondersoek vervolgens die rol van state, internasionale organisasies, instellings, en privaat sector firmas binne die sfeer van die politieke ekonomie van intellektuele eiendom en hoe hulle afsonderlik die funksionaliteit van die intellektuele eiendomsregte regime beïnvloed. Die metodologie behels 'n analitiese ondersoek van die literatuur oor die aard van internasionale intellektuele eiendomsreg regimes. Areas wat ondersoek word, is die agendas van belangrike akteurs, naamlik die staat en sy onderskeie departemente; individue en firmas; asook internasionale organisasies en instellings. Die konsep van intellektuele eiendom word ondersoek om die dinamiese uitwerking daarvan op die generiese medisyne debat te verstaan. Hierdie tesis voer aan dat die agendas van firmas, spesifiek farmaseutiese firmas en state die huidige politieke dooiepunt in die onderhandeling rondom 'n regverdige intellektuele iendomsregte-regime, uitbuit. Nasionale instellings, soos die Suid-Afrikaanse Departement van Gesondheid, is onder groot druk om bekostigbare gesondheidsdienste te lewer. Die VSA en farmaseutiese firmas domineer onderhandelinge vir 'n nuwe struktuur vir die internasionale eiendomsregte-regime. Deur gebruik te maak van 'n analitiese raamwerk wat sistemiese, interne belange, institusionele, en ideologies perspektiewe inkorporeer, word daar geargumenteer dat Suid-Afrika se pogings om 'n meer distributiewe intellektuele eiendomsregte regime te verseker, die probleem van gesondheid, Vigs, en generiese medisyne binnne die sfeer van die politieke ekonomie van handelsooreenkomste, plaas.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/53144
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