Amsterdam—Globalization—the issue that elicited the December demonstrations in Seattle—is a force that now affects every person, every patient, every physician in the world. For physicians in the United States, perhaps the most relevant aspects of globalization concern current access to and prices of pharmaceuticals.
Driven by economics and a trade orientation, the thrust for globalization comes from large corporations with strong support from some governments, notably that of the United States. The main instrument of globalization is the World Trade Organization (WTO), a body that resulted from the Final Act of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) Uruguay Round, which was signed on April 15, 1994. The WTO has 135 country members, and 30 more wish to join. The GATT agreement ratified the worldwide implementation of a free-trade economy.
Banta D. Increase in Global Access to Essential Drugs Sought. JAMA. 2000;283(3):321-323. doi:10.1001/jama.283.3.321-JMN0119-2-1