Policy: Tectonic Shift
April 01, 2001
Pretoria, South Africa-Few people noticed that the ground had begun to crumble under Big Pharma when, after the failed World Trade Organization talks in Seattle, Washington, the Clinton administration indicated that it would take note of the effects of its trade policies on healthcare in developing countries. Multinational companies had hitherto been able to take the support of governments for granted when it came to policing intellectual property, but Clinton's move indicated a major shift in policy. Few noticed, because the rhetoric wasn't immediately matched by reality. In fact, the US government continued to pressure countries whose intellectual property protection seemed too weak. Then the new Bush administration, thought to be an unwavering ally of the pharmaceutical industry, indicated it would continue the Clinton policy.