Chicago Journal of International Law


Medical innovation in developed countries like the U.S. leads to an ever-changing medical standard of care. This innovation frequently also brings rising costs. While these costs strain even the sizeable health care budgets of developed countries, imposing them on developing countries would be much more burdensome. Yet a variety of commentators and legal actors, such as the World Health OrganiZation and UNAIDS, have argued that the same standards of care must be provided worldwide, and have enforced mandates to that effect. Interpretations of the human right to health as a tight to the "highest attainable standard of health" similarly advance the idea of a uniform worldwide standard of care and threaten to produce excessive costs. This Article has two objectives: first, to identify, describe, and criticize the legal mandates and norms that threaten to produce increased medical costs and reduced access to cost-effective care in developing countries, and, second, to suggest how we can prevent these outcomes.