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Patent barriers to medicine access in South Africa: A case for patent law reform

Over the past 15 years, HIV activists in South Africa have won significant victories to secure affordable access to antiretroviral (ARV) treatment through challenging patent monopolies.

The cost of a first line ARV regimen in the country has dropped by 96% since 2000. With access to affordable generic products, South Africa has been able to significantly scale-up ARV treatment to more than three million people.

 Despite critical victories won through battling patent monopolies on an ad hoc basis, systemic problems in South Africa’s laws governing the protection of patents continue to inhibit access to medicines for all illnesses in the country.