Posted on | April 30, 2013 | No Comments
On 24 April 2013, Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies stated that South Africa’s new intellectual property (IP) policy would not be released for public comment any time soon. This starkly contrasts with a number of promises in the past two years, by both the Minister and officials in the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), that the release of the DTI-drafted policy is imminent.
South Africa’s patent laws do not include a number of provisions allowed for under international law that can facilitate access to medicines. In this regard we lag behind other developing countries, such as Brazil and India, in using legal safeguards in the interest of public health. According to earlier comments from the DTI, the department was developing a national IP policy that would lay the foundation for legal reform, and write such public health provisions into South African national law.
However, after recent public comments by Minister Davies, the future of the IP policy appears uncertain. Minister Davies was speaking at a public forum on 24 April 2013 in Cape Town, hosted by the Centre for Conflict Resolution. When asked by a TAC representative when the policy would be made publically available, Davies said he could not give “any comfort that this [policy] is coming out soon”. He further stated that the DTI would be “having quite a thorough relook” and going “back to some fairly solid basics” in drafting South Africa’s IP legislation.
These comments suggest that no progress has been made on the proposed policy in the last two years, despite public pressure and various promises made by the DTI, including the following: Read more
Posted on | April 23, 2013 | No Comments
By Marcus Low
This article was originally published on GroundUp on April 10 2013. The original article can be accessed here
A treaty that has the potential to change the lives of millions of blind people is at risk of being hijacked by publishers who show no sympathy for the difficulties faced by blind people across the world
It has been estimated that only 0.5% of books in South Africa are available in formats accessible to blind people. For the United States, less than 5% is the often quoted figure. I am slightly skeptical of these statistics, but there can be no doubt that the situation is very bad. It is what some call a “book famine”. Read more
TAC tweets photo messages to @EU_Commission in protest of the EU’s efforts to block access to affordable medicine
Posted on | April 12, 2013 | No Comments
TAC joins global actions against the European Union’s on-going efforts to restrict access to affordable medicines. The EU and India are in the final stages of negotiations for an EU-India free trade agreement (FTA). EU is also currently negotiating FTAs with Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia. The EU has repeatedly attempted to use these agreements to bully developing countries into giving up their rights to use TRIPS flexibilities to protect health.
Learn more about the FTAs and how you can take action at itpcmena.org/?The-attack-on-the-right-to-health
Posted on | April 10, 2013 | No Comments
Professor Brook K. Baker, Senior Policy Analyst Health GAP
April 2, 2013
Novartis, its fellow Big Pharma multinationals, Chambers of Commerce, and PhRMA have all roundly denounced India’s Supreme Court’s decision invalidating Novartis’ patent application for Glivec (Gleevec in the United States) and its affirmation of strict anti-evergreening standards of patentability and inventive step in India. As usual, Big Pharma cannot tell the truth about what India has done, what international intellectual property rules require, and what the impact of this decision will be on product introductions in India and innovation of new medicines. Because journalists continue to carry Pharma canards and since observers are anxious to understand whether India’s decision is legal or purely instrumental to advance industrial policy in favor of Indian generics, I debunk the major myths with what I hope are convincing facts.
Posted on | April 5, 2013 | No Comments
The 2012/2013 South African Health Review was launched on 2 April 2013. The first chapter of the publication reviews ‘Health policy and legislation’ in the country. The chapter includes a useful analysis of the draft intellectual property policy for South Africa, as well as the ruling in the recent docetaxel case. The chapter, which has been republished below, was drafted by Andy Grayi, Yousuf Vawdaii and Caron Jackiii
- Discipline of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal
- School of Law, University of KwaZulu-Natal
- Discipline of Telemedicine and Telehealth, University of KwaZulu-Natal
The full South African Health Review, which is published by Health Systems Trust, can be found online at http://www.hst.org.za/publications/south-african-health-review-2012/13
1. Intellectual property – an unfinished agenda
Although a new intellectual property policy was to be released for comment by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in July 2012, this has not happened. A regulatory impact assessment of the draft policy is currently underway and is expected to serve before the Cabinet in December 2012. The draft policy is therefore expected to be ready for public consultation in early 2013. An early draft has been circulated to certain interest groups. This draft proceeds on the basis that, while South Africa needs to align its policy and legislation to international treaties and norms, they must be consonant with the developmental stage appropriate to this country. The objectives of the policy are therefore, amongst others: “to develop a legal IP framework to empower all strata of citizens; one that provides a conducive environment for economic opportunities; the policy is to apply alongside other government policies to contribute to development; it would interface with related new emerging issues; and to improve and strengthen enforcement”. The draft is presented in 17 chapters and only those sections which have an impact on health are discussed here:
Posted on | April 2, 2013 | No Comments
For the past 7 years, the Indian government has faced on-going court challenges and bullying by the pharmaceutical company Novartis. Novartis’s challenge has centred on provisions in the Indian Patents Act that exclude new uses and formulations of existing medicines from patentability. Specifically, Novartis challenged India’s rejection of its patent application for the cancer medicine Imanitib (Gleevec). Novartis’s application was rejected on the grounds that Imanitib is not a new medicine, but merely a new formulation of an existing compound.
In an important victory for access to medicine across the developing world, the Indian Supreme Court on Monday upheld both the Indian Patents Act and the rejection of Novartis’s patent application on Imanitib. A ruling in favour of Novartis would have restricted India’s ability to produce and export generic medicines to developing countries and threatened its role as the pharmacy of the developing world.
South Africa must follow BRICS peers’ lead: fix our dysfunctional patent system & protect public health
Posted on | March 27, 2013 | No Comments
As the 5th BRICS Summit kicks off today in Durban, the South African government must follow the lead of its BRICS peers to ensure that life-saving medicines are affordable.
Other BRICS countries have fulfilled the commitments they made in July 2011 to enact public health safeguards spelled out in World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreements. Decisive moves by Brazil, India and China have saved hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and dramatically increased access to medicine by bringing down prices. South Africa lags far behind because it still grants and protects patent monopolies of pharmaceutical companies, at the expense of South Africans’ health.
South Africa’s patent system currently allows for patent protection of pharmaceuticals additional to WTO 20-year requirements, and does not take advantage of flexibilities for protecting health, like overriding patents with a compulsory license (CL) when drugs are priced out of reach for those in need.
Posted on | March 19, 2013 | No Comments
By Mara Kardas-Nelson
This article was originally published in the Mail&Guardian on 15 March 2013. The original is available at http://mg.co.za/article/2013-03-15-a-shocking-disregard-for-generics
Many drugs cost far more in South Africa than in countries with strict patent-vetting processes.
Two thousand four hundred and forty-two. That’s the number of medicine patents South Africa granted in 2008.
In Brazil, only 273 patents were given between 2003 and 2008.
South Africa grants patents without substantially reviewing applications first and routinely gives patents for new versions of old medicine, thus in effect extending patent life beyond the normal 20-year period. Brazil, in contrast, examines each application before a patent is granted.
The result, say some health activists and academics, is high medicine prices, because excessive patenting prohibits cheaper generic medicines from coming on to the market.
The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and Médecins sans Frontières (MSF), which have launched a “Fix the Patent Laws” campaign, say there are several instances in which patents block generic entry of key medicine – antiretrovirals, tuberculosis (TB) medicines, antibiotics and cancer treatments among them.
“I am shocked by how much South Africans pay for many drugs, for example, the TB drug Linezolid,” says Leena Menghaney, a lawyer who works with MSF’s Access Campaign. “In India, generic Linezolid is available for less than R10 a tablet. In South Africa, Pfizer has a patent on Linezolid and to get it for patients in need MSF pays R660 per tablet.”
Posted on | February 27, 2013 | No Comments
Photographs from the TAC/MSF picket at Gallagher Estate, directed at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), can be found here. The picket took place on 26 February 2013 during the DTI’s ‘AFrica IP Forum’.
Posted on | February 27, 2013 | No Comments
27 February, MIDRAND – Yesterday, TAC activists picketed at the Africa Intellectual Property (IP) Forum and handed over a memorandum to Rob Davies, Minister of Trade and Industry, before his keynote address. Activists were demanding that the draft IP policy, that will lead to patent law reform, be made public.
Minister Davies responded that the draft policy was now in its final stages and would be released for public comment soon. He spoke of the need for South Africa’s IP policy to balance “the rights of innovators and the rights of humanity”.
“There needs to be both incentives for innovation as well as ensuring public health and access to medicine,” he said. The Minister repeatedly highlighted the role of generic medicines in fighting disease in South Africa and was clear that “generics are not counterfeits”.
Vuyiseka Dubula, TAC General Secretary said, “People living with HIV demonstrated to highlight the importance of public health interests during this IP discussion. We are not protesting against the minister, but rather reminding policy makers of the voices of marginalised people. Those living with HIV and TB and civil society need to be included in the process that will shape laws that will have an impact on access to medicines and healthcare.”keep looking »