Older Documents on US - South Africa Bilateral Trade Dispute Over the Medicines Act

South Africa has been involved in a trade dispute with the US and several European countries over its efforts to make medicines less expensive. Much of the detail is given below. The most important disputes involved South Africa's Medicines Act, and in particular, a new Section 15c of the Act that would provide authority for fast track compulsory licensing of medicines and authorize parallel imports of medicines. On December 1, 1999, the US government finally has dropped South Africa from its "301 Watch List," a sign of US government change in policy. The policy change was a response to US domestic protests. This isn't the end of the dispute, however, because the US continues to monitor South Africa policy, and forty two pharmaceutical companies have sued in the South African courts to prevent the medicines act from becoming law. Contrary to many news reports, the private lawsuit is still active.

It is also the case that there are many similiar trade disputes that have not received as much attention, but which raise similiar issues. The US government also refuses to permit the World Health Organization to use US governemnt rights in taxpayer funded medical patents in developing countries.

Documents on the trade dispute

Time-Line of US Trade Pressures.

Five Common Mistakes by Reporters covering US/South Africa disputes over compulsory licensing and parallel imports.

CPT Note on what these USTR "watch lists" and reports actually mean.

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