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On 5 March 2001, 39 of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies took the South African government to court over the terms of its 1997 Medicines Act. The Act was intended to provide a legal framework within which medicines could be made more affordable in South Africa. The companies’ decision to pursue the legal proceedings initiated in 1997, despite the devastation caused by South Africa’s public health crisis, sparked international condemnation. This briefing and update, produced for Oxfam’s ‘Cut the Cost’ campaign, provide details of what became a landmark case with implications far beyond South Africa. 

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