DTIC must fix the patent laws to accelerate access to medicines for all
COVID-19 has spurred a global health crisis that disproportionately affects working-class and poor people. Patents, and other intellectual property instruments, can act as obstacles to accessing lifesaving medicines and other technology because they protect manufacturers from competition, keep prices of medicines high, and contribute to artificial scarcity.
South Africa has lobbied on various international multilateral forums for equitable access to Covid-19 medicines, notably by jointly proposing a temporary patent waiver on Covid-19 health technologies with India at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) TRIPS council. Despite these progressive moves internationally, South Africa still has an outdated patent law system domestically which acts as barrier to access to medicines.
Access to medicines is a critical component of the right to access healthcare. The Fix the Patent Laws (FTPL) Campaign represented by the Cancer Alliance, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the People’s Health Movement, SECTION27 and the Treatment Action Campaign, stands behind the South African government in its efforts to ensure that developing and middle-income countries are not left behind in the race to secure Covid-19 medicines while wealthy countries secure deals with pharmaceutical companies.
However, international intellectual property reform is only the beginning and limited to Covid-19. We need sustained patent reform to improve access to medicines not only for Covid-19 but also HIV, Tuberculosis and cancer, to name a few. The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition must reform South Africa’s intellectual property regime to ensure equitable access to life-saving medical products now!
Members of the FPTL Campaign will picket outside the Department of Trade and Industry and Competition to make the following demands:
- Put a temporary moratorium on granting patents on COVID-19 related products as they are proven effective.
- Automatic compulsory licensing of COVID-19 related health products with existing or pending patents.
- Fix the patent laws urgently to ensure the use of all legal flexibilities to improve access to all health products now and in the long term.
All Covid-19 health, safety and social distancing protocols will be in place.
Date: 18 March 2021
Time: 10am – 12pm
Where: 77 Meintjies Street,
Corner Robert Sobukwe and Meintjies Road,
For media queries, contact:
SECTION27 Doctors Without Borders
Julia Chaskalson Kate Stegeman
0834402674 079 527 1921