Yellow and white text on green background: the fault in our patents part 2. John Green versus Johnson and Johnson. *and global activists *and drug patent games.

This is part two of our globe-spanning story about drugs, patents, and YouTube megastar John Green. 

Quick recap: In our last episode, we learned how writer and YouTube star John Green kicked up a fight with Johnson & Johnson over a medicine called bedaquiline. And appeared to score a victory.

Here, we dig into the backstory: How everything John Green and his fans won was built on activism going back 20 years, and spanning multiple continents. 

All of it illustrates how pharma companies work the patent system to extend their legal monopolies on medicine way beyond the standard 20 years, and how that leads to high drug prices here and abroad. 

And what we can maybe do about it. 

This episode starts in 2004, when India began the process of changing its patent laws to align with global trade rules. Activists there managed to carve out exceptions to the law to prevent some of the worst patent abuses. 

Fast forward to this year, when those legal safeguards become key to unlocking new doors in the fight against TB. 

Meanwhile, the proponents of those Indian safeguards are here in the U.S., pushing for drug patent reform here. Which not only could help Americans, but also influence global standards. 

NOTE: When originally posted, this episode contained an error regarding the countries excluded from Johnson & Johnson’s agreement with the Global Drug Facility.

Here’s a transcript for this episode.

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