Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

New policy gives generic medicines the upper hand

Government has published a draft intellectual property policy with potential far-reaching effects for pharmaceutical patents, which rghts groups on Monday hailed as a move towards lower medicine costs.

If accepted, the reforms will facilitate the production of cheaper, generic medicines, according to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the Treatment Action Campaign.

The policies "set the stage for changes that promise to increase competition in the pharmaceutical sector 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 generic manufacturers, 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 generic medicines and grant over five million South Africans living with Aids or multi drug-resistant tuberculosis access to treatments.

But powerful drug-makers treated the draft with caution.

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

The trade and industry department 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 intellectual property policy, which has led to a fragmented approach to such matters. – AFP

Vote for an informed choice

We’re dropping the paywall this week so that everyone can access all our stories for free, and get the information they need in the run up to the local government elections. To follow the news, sign up to our daily elections newsletter for the latest updates and analysis.

If our coverage helps inform your decision, cast your vote for an informed public and join our subscriber community. Right now, a full year’s access is just R510, half the usual cost. Subscribers get access to all our best journalism, subscriber-only newsletters, events and a weekly cryptic crossword.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Latest stories

Mission implausible for the DA’s man in Nkandla

Malibongwe Dubazane is contesting all 14 of the IFP-run Nkandla local municipality’s wards

Andries Tatane’s spirit will drive fight against ANC in Ficksburg

The nascent Setsoto Service Delivery Forum is confident it can remove the ‘failing ANC’ in the chronically mismanaged Free State municipality

Paddy Harper: On gleeful politicians and headless chickens

Paddy Harper doesn’t know who to vote for yet, since the Dagga Party isn’t contesting his ward, but right now what to order for lunch is a more pressing concern

Malema: ANC will use load-shedding to steal votes

While on the campaign trail in the Eastern Cape, EFF leader Julius Malema, without evidence, claimed the ANC was planning to use rolling blackouts to ‘steal votes’
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×