PILLS FOR THE POOREST: AN EXPLORATION OF TRIPS AND ACCESS TO MEDICATION IN SUB‐SAHARAN AFRICA by EMILIE CLOATRE

Date01 December 2014
Published date01 December 2014
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6478.2014.00691.x
PILLS FOR THE POOREST: AN EXPLORATION OF TRIPS AND ACCESS
TO MEDICATION IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA by EMILIE CLOATRE
(Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, 224 pp., £65.00)
In an area ± the impact of intellectual property (IP) rights on access to
medicines ± with such an extensive literature, it is refreshing to find a
different approach taken to understanding the problem and its processes. An
approach which has not been selected merely for its novelty, but applied in a
meaningful and justified way, with its appropriateness clearly outlined in the
book's introduction. The author's use of actor-network theory (ANT) as a
methodological approach to exploring questions of access to medicines and
the impact that IP can have on it lead to some significant insights for
scholarship and practice. The book ± and this appears to have been the
author's intent ± serves well as both an example of how ANT can be used to
uncover the transform ation of law into practic e and as a thorough
examination of the practical implications of the World Trade Organisation's
Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights
(TRIPS) in and from the perspective of two contrasting developing-country
case studies (Djibouti and Ghana). In this it also clearly achieves its
objective of raising `questions about the process of studying law in its social
deployment and the very nature of legal tools' (p. 177).
The application of ANT in the research and its careful, conceptual, and
methodological, introduction in chapter 1 persuasively demonstrates its
utility for uncovering complex relationships between law and its social
practice, in a way that readers could readily apply to other areas ± and
indeed, I think many are likely to be inspired to do so. There is a good
introduction to key ideas and literature in ANT, with critical reflection by the
author which highlights its different and fluid understandings. This makes
clear its relevance to the subject of IP and its interactions with public health
systems and access to medicines, and how the selection of case studies are
appropriate in their representation of neglected perspectives and in being
able to provide contrasting cases that illus trate the diversity among
developing countries which are frequently classed together in discussions
of TRIPS and access to medicines, while still allowing potential areas of
shared experiences and impacts to be identified.
In her use of the case studies of Djibouti and Ghana, the author achieves
a careful balancing act between localizing the research and its findings in
particular contexts and in suggesting where and how this might bring
broader insights into the translation of international IP law in developing
countries. Care is taken throughout not to overstate or make unjustifiable
generalizations from the two case studies, but the author is still able to
identify useful commonalities that in some cases could extend beyond the
particular contexts studied. Frequent inclusion of quotations from interviews
with various participants in the legal and health systems of Djibouti and
Ghana provides a sense of connectivity to people's experiences, with
658
ß2014 The Author. Journal of Law and Society ß2014 Cardiff University Law School

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT