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Intellectual property

Poor countries should use intellectual property rights rules to get a better global deal. And the west should help

By Shereen El Feki   October 2002

In Nairobi, AIDS activists are celebrating a rare victory. After months of vacillation, the Kenyan parliament recently approved a law allowing for the importation of generic, or copycat, versions of patented anti-retroviral medicines without their patent-holders’ consent. Many people believe that opening the market to generic copies will bring down prices for millions of HIV-infected Kenyans faster than any discount offered by giant drug companies.

Meanwhile, in the Puna highlands of Peru, poor farmers are furious about patents issued to two US companies giving them exclusive rights to market maca, a potato-like plant and popular aphrodisiac, in America. The Peruvians…

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