Thursday, 7 August 2008

More on the case against Compulsory Licensing: AIDS

Writing for the New York Post, Thompson Ayodele of ippanigeria.org - a public-policy think tank based in Lagos, again sets out his case against compulsory licensing. This time co-inciding with the 17th International AIDS Conference in Mexico where 25 000 people are gathered to attend. Thompson's case is "that the focus on patents and the practice of compulsory licensing isn't just a distraction from the real issues: It also threatens the safety of many AIDS patients." In support he cites that:

* In some African countries (notably Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Kenya and Sierra Leone) duties and taxes on medicines drive the costs through the roof.

* Government regulations also add to the price of drugs. It takes the South African government more than three years to grant regulatory approval for medicines already available in developed countries.

* Drug companies already sell their drugs to poor countries at prices well below cost. Just this year, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck and Pfizer donated $450 million worth of drugs to Burkina Faso; and

* A lack of investment in infrastructure (see earlier post summarizing his views here).

* Citing India as an example - as a result of poor-quality knock-offs that don't have to pass the same safety tests as their brand-name counterparts, drug resistance is on the rise.

He concludes that "if this week's conference is to have an impact on the growing AIDS pandemic, the participants need to get their priorities straight. Improving medical infrastructure and lowering tariffs should be their chief concern - not weakening drug patents."

I would suggest that access to proper drugs is compounded by the significant problem of counterfeit drugs on the continent (see earlier posts here).

For further posts (and comments) on the issue click here, here, here, here, here and here.

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