Monday 30 August 2010

Darren Olivier

WSJ reports on the Access to Drugs debate

It is always good to see an article on Africa in the Wall Street Journal. Alec van Gelder, who has commented on this blog before writes that:

"The drug companies do make easy targets but that doesn't make them villains. The life-saving treatments they create remain Africa's best hope. The misguided battle against pharmaceutical companies' patent rights will only make Africa's health crisis worse..."

Right - seized drugs (AFP)

The full article explains that lack of domestic infrastructure and misguided aid are the real villains (I was able to read article first time without the need to subscribe and hope you can too).

Afro Leo was in a conversation this month with a fork lift driver and building site manager from Durban who explained that every person on his 30 strong team was infected. "You would not notice the difference until they do not take their ARVs. Men capable of lifting bags of cement for an entire shift, die within months." I asked him why they would not take their ARVs and he explained that it was sometimes cost and sometimes supply. For further reading on the "patents v access" debate on this blog, type in "access to drugs" in the search block on Afro-IP.

Meanwhile late last week, Interpol, East Africa announced the seizure of 10 tonnes of counterfeit drugs. Yahoo news article here. The WHO, one of the targets of Alec's article, ironically gets part of the credit. The massive raid nicknamed Mamba III involved targets in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. Given the recent debate over Kenya's definition of "counterfeit" (which included comment on the WHO's definition of the term) Afro Leo welcomes clarification on whether the confiscated drugs were fakes or actually generics that may fall within the definition of "counterfeit".


* Congratulations to Nevashni Pillay who got Friday's "Where in Africa?" correct! This Friday Afro Leo will continue his travels to IP hubs across Africa.

* Last week we reported on the Africa Media Rights Watch initiative here. Dugie Standeford, writing for the excellent IP Watch, provides further information on the initiative in this piece here

Darren Olivier

Darren Olivier

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