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In this article John Sulston describes a visit he made last year to South Africa, where he witnessed first-hand both the tragic suffering of those living with AIDS, and the remarkable successes that are possible when medicines are available.

At the time, he says, the future looked hopeful for poor countries. The Doha Declaration on intellectual property rights and public health had confirmed governments' right to override patents and authorise the manufacture of cheap generic versions. But somehow that solution has continued to slip away.

Sulston says that the heart of the matter is that our society and our economy increasingly depend upon private finance. And he argues that as long as the North selfishly looks out for its own pharmaceutical interests, our thinking will be blinkered as well as unethical.

Link to full The Guardian comment article