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Title: Achieving access to antiretroviral medicines : favouring a soft law approach in the global fight against AIDS
Author: Sekalala, Sharifah Rahma
ISNI:       0000 0004 2724 9957
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2011
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In 1986, the first case of HIV/AIDS was reported. A decade later, it had killed over 25 million people. Many, especially those in the developing world, were dying slowly and agonisingly from a disease that had no cure. Entire communities were losing so many people in the prime of their lives changing the fabric of those societies irrevocably. When antiretroviral medicines were discovered, there was a sense of optimism. Although these medicines were not a cure for AIDS, sufferers for the first time had hope of an almost normal life, a life without debilitating pain, a life where getting AIDS did not necessarily mean a death sentence. Unfortunately, the new ARVs were governed by the international law trade regime. These medicines had patents on them which allowed the pharmaceutical companies who owned them to exclude other users and charge astronomical prices. Millions of AIDS sufferers especially those from the developing world simply could not afford to pay these prices. This thesis examines the response of the international legal regime to this dilemma. It argues that a hard law approach was unsuited to creating greater access to ARVs as this meant prioritising patent rights which always invariably led to cost implications for the user. Many of the people who suffered from AIDS in developing countries were therefore still left unable to afford these medicines. By contrast the thesis argues that a soft law approach has been more effective. Soft law unlike its hard law counterpart makes it easier for States to reach agreement due to its non-binding nature. This also makes it faster for countries to achieve a consensus over issues, which makes it preferable when dealing with public health pandemics, such as AIDS, where speed is of the essence. Soft law is also more flexible and easier to supplement, amend or replace when faced with changing circumstances. In pursuing this argument, the World Trade Organization regime and the United Nations regime from which the majority of conceptual responses to the access to ARV problems have originated are assessed. In doing so the research suggests that soft law initiatives have developed a humanitarian norm of access to ARVs so as to enhance the prospect of universal access programmes that give free ARVs to those who would have been unable to afford them otherwise.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: K Law (General) ; RA Public aspects of medicine