For over a year, TAC has eagerly been awaiting the release of the intellectual property (IP) policy for South Africa. TAC has closely followed the development of the policy as it will impact on the price of medicines in the future.
During a TAC/MSF meeting last year, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) announced that the policy would be submitted to Cabinet on 5 December. But when Cabinet met on 5 December the IP policy was not on the agenda.
The DTI informed TAC and MSF that prior to the submission of the policy to Cabinet, a Committee of the Director-Generals from each government ministry must meet to review the policy. According to the DTI, this meeting did not take place in December, causing the delay in submitting the policy to Cabinet. At this time, the DTI informed TAC that the policy would be submitted to Cabinet during January 2013.
We have now been informed by Mr MacDonald Netshitenzhe, Chief Director of Policy and Legislation at the DTI, that the policy will only be submitted to Cabinet in early February. He did not, however, provide an exact date. TAC is concerned that the release of the IP policy will be further delayed, which will block a much needed discussion on the consequences of IP on access to medicines and public health in general. TAC therefore calls on the DTI to urgently set a date for submission.