S.Africa tackles drugs patent reform

South Africa's government has published a draft intellectual property policy with potential far-reaching effects for pharmaceutical patents, which rights groups hailed Monday as a move towards lower medicine costs.

If accepted, the reforms will facilitate the production of cheaper, generic medicines, according to Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and local AIDS-activist group Treatment Action Campaign.

The policies "set the stage for changes that promise to increase competition in the and lower the price of medicines in South Africa," the group said in a statement.

South Africa's current laws allow firms to renew patents indefinitely by changing minute elements in a medicine's composition.

"This allows companies to extend the life of their monopolies, block competition from , and charge inflated prices for medicines in both the public and private sector," said the rights groups.

The new patent policies will allow the production of and grant over five million South Africans living with AIDS or multi drug-resistant (MDR) tuberculosis access to treatments.

The country's powerful drug-makers treated the draft with caution.

"We would support anything that would increase IP (intellectual property) protection," said Val Beaumont, who heads the Innovative Pharmaceutical Association of South Africa.

The Department of Trade and Industry invited public consultation on the text until October 4, though the policy could take years to finalise.

According to the document, South Africa does not have a written national IP policy which has led to a fragmented approach to such matters.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Activists warn trade pact will keep out generics (Update)

Jul 03, 2013

A free trade pact being negotiated by the U.S. and 11 Asia-Pacific nations will impose aggressive intellectual property rules that could restrict access to affordable medicines in developing nations, health activists warned ...

India's top court to deliver Novartis judgment

Mar 31, 2013

India's Supreme Court is to rule Monday on a landmark patent case involving Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG that focuses on demands by major companies that their investments be protected, against Indian companies ...

Patents making new AIDS drugs expensive, MSF says

Jul 02, 2013

New potentially life-saving HIV drugs are "beyond reach" due to restrictive patents, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said Tuesday, even though basic medication for the disease has become cheaper.

Recommended for you

Xtoro approved for swimmer's ear

18 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Xtoro (finafloxacin otic suspension) eardrops have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat swimmer's ear, clinically known as acute otitis externa.

Drug interaction identified for ondansetron, tramadol

18 hours ago

(HealthDay)—In the early postoperative period, ondansetron is associated with increased requirements for tramadol consumption, according to a review and meta-analysis published online Dec. 10 in Anaesthesia.

New system targets germs in donated blood plasma

Dec 17, 2014

(HealthDay)—A new system designed to eliminate germs in donated blood plasma and reduce the risk of transmitting a plasma-borne infection has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Judge halts Alzheimer's drug swap until July

Dec 16, 2014

A federal judge has ordered an Irish drug manufacturer to halt its plans to discontinue its widely used Alzheimer's medication, allegedly in an effort to drive patients to a newer patented drug.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.