Corporate Social Responsibility: The New Social Contract

Ann Florini

In April 2001, “Big Pharma” threw in the towel. Four years earlier, some 40 international drug companies had filed suit to block implementation of a law in South Africa that would allow the government to manufacture or import affordable generic versions of patented HIV/AIDS drugs.

The companies were attempting to protect their patent rights, and they argued that patent protection was necessary to provide the incentive to develop better drugs. They may have had a case under the terms of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), an agreement the industry had helped design.