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.
In the same breath, we find it strange that advocates of Laissez-faire style of capitalism have suddenly become strong supporters of state intervention, contradicting the very same principles of the system which calls for minimal, if not no involvement of the state in the economy. This is clearly a vote of no confidence in the free market system.
Lastly, Pharmaceutical companies are making in billions of rands at the expense of the poor. Many die because they cannot access drugs at cheaper rates. Even generics are too expensive for many South Africans.
We call on government to make it impossible for pharmaceutical companies obtain patents on drugs which would allow them to make skyrocketing profits at the plight of the poor. Over and above, there should be regulation prices of drugs in order to increase access and affordability to all people.
No company should be allowed to profit from diseases and the predicament of the poor!”