The time to Fix South Africa’s Patent Laws is now! 

Media Statement: Thousands are dying and suffering because they can’t access patented medicines. The time to Fix South Africa’s Patent Laws is now!  8 November 2021 — Activists from the Fix The Patent Laws Campaign will march to the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) tomorrow 9 November 2021 to urge the government to […]

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MEDIA ADVISORY: ACTIVISTS TO MARCH TO DEPARTMENT OF TRADE, INDUSTRY AND COMPETITION TO #FIXPATENTLAW ON 9 NOV 2021 People in South Africa are needlessly suffering and dying because many patented medicines are unaffordable. The time to Fix South Africa’s Patent Laws is now!  5 November 2021 — Activists from the Fix The Patent Laws Campaign […]

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  1. 1994

    · APRIL – The Bill of Rights comes into force in South Africa outlining the new democratic government’s constitutional obligations including the progressive realisation of the right to have access to health care services.

    · APRIL – As a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), South Africa signs the international agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)

  2. 1997

    · NOVEMBER – President Nelson Mandela signs amendments to South Africa’s Medicines and Related Substances Act 101 of 1965 (Medicines Act) into law including certain TRIPS flexibilities.

  3. 1998

    · FEBRUARY  –  The Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PMA), representing 37 international pharmaceutical companies, initiates legal action, challenging the introduction of amendments to the Medicines Act.

  4. 2001

    · APRIL – The PMA drops its case against the South African government following massive, international outcry.

    · NOVEMBER – The Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health (“the Doha Declaration”) is signed by members of the WTO, re-affirming countries’ rights to utilise safeguards in the TRIPS agreement to protect health.

  5. 2002

    · SEPTEMBER – TAC files a complaint with the Competition Commission concerning the conduct and excessive pricing of essential ARV medicines by multi-national pharmaceutical giants Boehringer Ingelheim and GlaxoSmithKline.

  6. 2003

    · DECEMBER – Following referral of TAC’s Competition Commission complaint to the Competition Tribunal, Boehringer Ingelheim and GlaxoSmithKline grant licenses for generic manufacture and sale of the ARV medicines Lamivudine and Zidovudine in South Africa and also allowing supply to other sub-Saharan countries.

  7. 2007

    · NOVEMBER – TAC launches Competition Commission complaint against MSD (Merck) for unlawfully refusing to grant licenses to allow for generic production of and affordable access to generic efavirenz.

  8. 2008

    · JUNE – Following TAC’s Competition Commission complaint, MSD grants voluntary licenses for production and use in South Africa of generic versions of ARV medicine Efavirenz, leading to massive price reductions

  9. 2009

    · JUNE – South Africa’s Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) initiates the process of reforming intellectual property (IP) laws on its own accord. The DTI announces plans to release a policy document for reform of South Africa’s IP legislation during 2009.

  10. 2010

    · NOVEMBER – TAC, MSF and SECTION27 jointly launch the Fix the Patent Laws campaign on the 10 year anniversary of the Doha Declaration.

  11. 2013

    · SEPTEMBER – DTI releases draft IP policy, inviting public comment. The draft policy outlines principles and proposals that promise to increase competition in the pharmaceutical sector and lower the prices of medicines in South Africa.

    · OCTOBER – Public comment period closes on draft IP Policy. Over 100 submissions are submitted to the DTI. The Fix the Patent Laws campaign hands in our submission with a march to the DTI of attended by 1000 comrades to bring awareness to the issue the DTI.

  12. 2014

    · JANUARY – Pharmagate scandal hits South African media—25 pharmaceutical companies under the umbrella organisation IPASA are revealed to be plotting a scheme to delay the finalisation of the IP policy. Minister of Health calls the plot tantamount to “genocide”.

    · MARCH – Mass marches are held by the Fix the Patent Laws campaign in Cape Town and Pretoria. Memorandums calling for a final IP policy before national elections are delivered to the DTI Minister and Parliament.

    · OCTOBER – At an IP Summit hosted by TAC, nearly 50,000 signatories sign petitions and an open letter to encourage the finalisation of the IP policy.

  13. 2016

    · MARCH – Members of the Fix the Patent Laws campaign picket outside pharmaceutical company Roche to highlight the excessive price charged for breast cancer medicine trastuzumab.

    · JULY – Cabinet approves a new IP Consultative Framework for South Africa, which is published for public comment by the Department of Trade and Industry

    · SEPTEMBER – Over 1000 activists from the Fix the Patent Laws Campaign march to the DTI office in Pretoria to hand over the coalition’s joint submission on the IP Consultative Framework.

  14. 2017

    · FEBRUARY – The Fix the Patent Laws Campaign leads a global day of action against pharma company Roche in memory of the late Tobeka Daki, launching the Tobeka Daki Campaign for Access to Trastuzumab in her memory.

  15. 2018

    · MAY – The cabinet of South Africa approves the new Intellectual Property (IP) Policy.

  16. 2019

    · APRIL – The Fix the Patent Laws campaign leads a protest of hundreds of people outside the Fair Pricing Forum in Johannesburg that asked the question “what is a fair price for a medicine?” Together with 64 global organisations, the campaign launched a joint statement highlighting the concerns with the WHO’s definition of a fair price.

    · APRIL – The Fix the Patent Laws campaign launched a report of findings from an analysis of tuberculosis research and development (R&D) underway in South Africa. The analysis was conducted to gain greater insight into the TB innovation landscape in South Africa, the role of public financing in driving and supporting innovation, as well as expectations of public returns (I.e., affordable, user-friendly health technologies) from R&D efforts and expenditure, and strategies employed to promote public returns.

  17. 2020

    · MAY –  More than 80 leading academics, researchers and teachers in South Africa sent a letter to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. They urge the President to urgently reform South Africa’s patent laws and take further steps to ensure access to COVID-19 related health products.

    · MAY – The Fix the Patent Law campaign wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa with recommendations for increasing access to COVID-19 diagnostics, treatments and vaccines which include placing a moratorium on the issuance of patents on COVID-19-related medical products or processes among other measures.

    · OCTOBER – The Fix the Patent Laws campaign wrote to the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition requesting an update on the status of the draft legislation implementing the Intellectual Property Policy.

  18. 2021

    · FEBRUARY – In support of the TRIPS Waiver proposal, 10 groups of health activists delivered letters to 15 embassies in Pretoria and Cape Town demanding that their governments support the waiver request or at the very least stop obstructing the adoption of the proposed waiver in the WTO.

    · MARCH – Members of the FPTL campaign picketed outside the Department of Trade and Industry and Competition to demand that the government fix the patent laws to accelerate access to medicines for all.

    · MAY – The Fix the Patent Laws campaign welcomed the announcement that the Biden-Harris Administration supports the temporary waiver of intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines.