The nightly news are filled with stories about the bird flu and the prospect of a pandemic that will kill millions of people. But it has also brought one issue back to the table, the access to medicines debate. There are reports that there is only one antiviral drug that deals with the current strain of the disease, a drug by Swiss company Roche called Tamiflu. There is growing concern that Roche is the only company with a patent to produce this drug, and it is finally dawning on some people that this may not be such a good idea after all.
What to do? Some governments have warned that they will simply start producing the drug themselves, patent be damned. Whatever happens, it is clear that the access to medicines debate may be coming back.