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Access to AIDS medicine: ethical considerations

Omar Swartz

DOI: 10.20529/IJME.2004.039


The concept of property is usually understood as a moral and legal right to exercise exclusive influence and control over a material object. A person who owns something, such as a patent or medicine, can dispose of (or control access to) it without regard for others. Like and including patents, most property in a modern capitalist economy is intangible. For example, pharmaceutical companies do not merely own the medicine they produce, but (in many cases) they also ‘own’ the intangible molecular-biological formulation of the medicine. They own the medicine’s ‘blueprint’ and thus can prevent others from producing the same or similar medicine.

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