Posted on | March 12, 2014 | No Comments
FINALISE THE IP POLICY BEFORE ELECTIONS & GIVE US BETTER ACCCESS TO MEDICINES
Activists demand rapid completion of intellectual property policy six years in the making; Without internationally recognised public health safeguards policy will be health disaster
2014/03/11, PRETORIA — Marching to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and SECTION27 led 1,000 health activists to demand the finalisation of a National Intellectual Property (IP) Policy before the general elections, to provide South Africans better access to the drugs they need through legislative reforms.
“It’s been six years since the Department of Trade and Industry started work on the IP policy and we cannot wait any longer. DTI has to keep to its promise to complete it by April – before the elections on 7 May – so the laws can start to change. We cannot afford to keep lining the pockets of international pharmaceutical companies at the expense of South Africans who need vital drugs,” says Andrew Mosane of the Treatment Action Campaign.
Posted on | March 7, 2014 | No Comments
MEDIA INVITE: PHOTO OPPORTUNITY
FIX THE PATENT LAWS CAMPAIGN
TUESDAY MARCH 11 – Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) offices, PRETORIA
THURSDAY MARCH 13 – Parliament, CAPE TOWN
Health activists to demand completion of South Africa’s Intellectual Property Policy outside DTI offices, Pretoria and Parliament, Cape Town.
Over 2,500 health activists across the Western Cape and Gauteng will march on the DTI offices in Pretoria and Parliament in Cape Town to demand that South Africa fix its intellectual property laws to improve access to affordable medicines in the country.
Activists are asking the DTI to resist pharmaceutical industry pressure and complete the National Policy on Intellectual Property, before the general elections, in line with the government’s Constitutional
Posted on | March 7, 2014 | No Comments
Lotti Rutter from the Treatment Action Campaign responds to PhRMA opinion piece in BDLive on 26th February 2014
This Wednesday’s opinion piece – “Strong IP regime could boost FDI” – might have promised a simple solution for increasing foreign direct investment, but unfortunately the reality is much more complicated. Rather than strong intellectual property (IP) protection being the ‘dynamo of growth’ as suggested by PhRMA Vice President Rod Hunter, the available evidence from our developing country peers suggests the exact opposite.
A recent study by Mila Kashcheeva, of 103 countries from 1970 to 2009 found that strong IP protection has a negative correlation with FDI in developing countries. Instead countries with ‘lax’ levels of IP protection achieved higher growth in foreign investment. The actual drivers of FDI in the pharmaceutical sector prove to be labour and production costs and economic incentives.
If granting poor quality patents lead to increased FDI, one would expect South Africa to be awash in investment since virtually every patent applied for here is granted. Instead we have attracted far less FDI than countries with weaker IP protection. Since complying with international trade law, 35 pharmaceutical manufacturing plants have shut down. Read more
Posted on | February 13, 2014 | No Comments
“The Economic & Social Case for Patent Law Reform in South Africa”
Lotti Rutter and Catherine Tomlinson
This updated research paper from the Treatment Action Campaign seeks to respond with reasoned analysis to a number of inaccurate claims that have been made by the pharmaceutical industry, particularly following the PharmaGate scandal. The evidence highlights how South Africa’s current intellectual property system allows exploitation by foreign companies whilst impeding access to medicines and the growth of our local industry. Additionally, the paper demonstrates that there is little evidence to back up industry claims that the adoption of public health safeguards in South Africa will undermine the development of future medicines.
The reforms proposed by the Department of Trade and Industry in South Africa are not radical. They are moderate, legal, rationale reforms acknowledged by global institutions including the WTO, WHO and WIPO. Nothing in the proposed reforms to South Africa’s Patent Act will do a way with patents. Truly innovative new treatments will still be patentable. Instead, what the Fix the Patent Laws campaign seeks is a more rational patent regime that takes into account South Africa’s health, developmental, social and economic needs. A regime that is based on relevant evidence rather than ideology.
You can access the research paper here: The Economic and Social Case for Patent Law Reform in South Africa.
Posted on | January 28, 2014 | No Comments
A shortened version of this article was originally published in the Financial Mail of January 24-29. By Marcus Low, Treatment Action Campaign.
We are deeply perturbed by revelations in last Friday’s Mail & Guardian exposing what appears to be a very well-funded, covert plot by foreign pharmaceutical companies and their local subsidiaries to delay a democratic law reform process in South Africa. The law reform concerns the new draft intellectual property policy developed by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). This policy has already been delayed for many years. The leaked documents expose a secretive US$ 500,000 plot to delay the policy even further.
We do not dispute the right of the companies involved to argue against patent law reform. They have had ample opportunity to make their case during last year’s period of public consultation and during meetings they had with the DTI before that. What does concern us is the intent to deceive the South African public. The leaked documents indicate that this will be done through rigging research into the impact of policy changes and by setting up a front organization called Forward South Africa. Forward SA would have a prominent South African person as its public face, but would secretly be run from the U.S. It is the stuff of conspiracy theories, but set down in documents circulated between members of the Innovative Pharmaceutical Association of South Africa (IPASA) and endorsed by Michael Azrak, head of IPASA’s intellectual property committee.
Posted on | January 24, 2014 | No Comments
This statement was originally published on the Knowledge Ecology International website by Thiru Balasubramaniam:
On Thursday, 23 January 2014, Malebona Precious Matsoso (Director General of the South African National Department of Health) delivered the the following intervention at the 134th session of the World Health Organization’s Executive Board under agenda item 9.7 on Access to essential medicines in response to the recent Pharmagate imbroglio.
SOUTH AFRICAN STATEMENT
ACCESS TO ESSENTIAL MEDICINES
Chair, the recent leak by the multinational pharmaceutical industry of the strategy written by Public Affairs Engagement to undermine South Africa’s efforts to reform its Intellectual Property policies is unfortunate. One of the objectives of this policy is to contribute towards the protection and promotion of public health, and access to medicines in particular.
This is not the first time that South Africa has been under such an attack, even in the face of the most devastating HIV/AIDS and TB co-morbidities. The first time was when Nelson Mandela was the first respondent to the legal challenge.
Posted on | January 22, 2014 | No Comments
Article originally published by the NSP Review here. By Lotti Rutter, Treatment Action Campaign
Achieving the National Strategic Plan (NSP) objectives depends on the effective use of the national health budget. But is there sufficient emphasis on value for money in the health sector at a time when South Africa is struggling to meet its targets of placing 80% of eligible patients on ART and reducing TB deaths by 50%? Or is money being wasted lining the pockets of the pharmaceutical industry that manipulates the system to make ever-increasing levels of profit?
According to the agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) must respect a period of patent protection lasting 20 years. During this time, a patent holder maintains exclusive rights to their product. This lack of a competitive market allows pharmaceutical companies to charge unaffordable prices in order to maximise profits – meaning life-saving medicines remain inaccessible.
Posted on | January 20, 2014 | No Comments
On 18th January, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) put out the following statement in response to the #PharmaGate scandal – pertaining to a leaked international pharmaceutical industry plot to derail national plans for patent law reform in South Africa:
“The Congress of South African Trade Unions condemns with the contempt it deserves the plot by greedy pharmaceutical companies to block the adoption of the National policy on Intellectual Property that would drive down prices for a range of medications, including antiretrovirals and tuberculosis treatment, and allow South Africans to have access to cheaper and more affordable medication.
We support the Minister of Health, Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s statement that the planned campaign by multinational pharmaceutical companies against these proposals is genocide. This plot is tantamount to treachery as it seeks to stop parliament from exercising its duty to pass legislation that improves the lives of South Africans.
Posted on | January 18, 2014 | No Comments
By Professor Brook K. Baker, Senior Policy Analyst, Health GAP
PhRMA (Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers of America) is putting $350,000 on the table to stop proposed patent law reform in South Africa and instead to lobby for even more monopoly protections for medicines. Why would a pharmaceutical association from the US be so interested in an African country that comprises only a tiny fraction of global pharmaceutical sales? Why, after having faced universal public scorn for having sued the Nelson Mandela government 1998-2001 to stop earlier, completely lawful access-to-medicines reforms, would the industry once again risk humiliating publicity and an all-but-certain defeat? More particularly, when every reform that South Africa is proposing is completely lawful under international intellectual property law, most particularly the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), why would PhRMA choose to a clandestine, public-relations and think-tank strategy not only to derail the propose reform, but advocate for even stronger monopoly protections?
The answer is simple – dirty lucre and precedent.
Posted on | January 18, 2014 | No Comments
Today the Mail & Guardian published a story entitled - “Motsoaledi: Big pharma’s ‘satanic’ plot is genocide” regarding leaked documents revealing that the international pharmaceutical industry planned a $450,000 campaign against the proposed patent law reforms in South Africa. In reaction the Treatment Action Campaign’s General Secretary Vuyiseka Dubula made the following statement:
“The Treatment Action Campaign is outraged over what appears to be a covert and well-funded plan from the foreign pharmaceutical industry to delay an essential law reform process in South Africa. It takes us back to the turn of the century when 39 pharmaceutical companies took President Nelson Mandela and the South African government to court to try to stop legislative reform to improve South Africa’s ability to access affordable life-saving medicines. Now, just weeks after his death, foreign pharmaceutical companies are coordinating another major attack on this right.keep looking »