6 November 2013
Yesterday the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) released a statement by Minister Rob Davies announcing an upcoming conference to discuss issues that emerged in response to the DTI’s call for submission’s on the Draft National Policy on Intellectual Property (IP).
TAC, SECTION27 and MSF’s joint submission on the draft policy can be read here. Our joint submission included a number of specific recommendations on reforms that South Africa must make to ensure that national IP legislation is in line with the country’s Constitution, as well as to facilitate access to more affordable medicines. The recommendations were supported by over 150 international organisations, experts and academics that endorsed an open letter to the DTI.
We are encouraged that the DTI has retained its pro-public health and development stance – following the public comment period – despite pressures to expand IP protections that protect the commercial interests of the private companies. The DTI has reiterated that the country’s IP policy must address medicine access and pricing issues, address abusive and anti-competitive patenting, as well as resist pressure to provide patent restoration or extension.
Prior delays in the policy process have impeded widespread access to affordable medicines in South Africa. In this vein, we have called on the DTI to establish a reasonable timeline for enacting legislative reform, as set out in the IP policy. TAC is encouraged by the DTI’s swift turn-around time in reviewing the public’s submissions and arranging a joint stakeholder consultation to discuss issues that emerged during this process. We look forward to participating in the DTI’s upcoming consultation.