Wednesday 22 January 2014


Access to medicine and patents: One African country decides to take 'real' action

This Leo finds the public tussle between the South African (SA) Government and pharmaceutical giants fascinating. Fascinating because it appears as if the SA Government really cares about its people - rather than divert attention as seen in other African countries

Afro-IP has been following the mooted SA's IP reforms for a while (e.g. here) and to add to yesterday's post, readers may wish to watch this CNBC Africa interview with South Africa's Health Minister, Aaron Motsoaledi, who valiantly responded with recognised points in the access to medicine and patents discourse. Others may label it 'trash talk'; but this Leo was particularly impressed when Mr Motosoaledi said this: "We're not doing something that is illegal; that is not done internationally. We're doing something that we have never done; we did not do for a long time and it disadvantaged us and we want to correct it." (Just in case this Leo have not transcribed correctly, you can listen from 9:00 to 9:50.)

Well, South Africa have actually done a thing or two with compulsory licensing (as well as using other mechanisms) to bring about affordable medicines. Perhaps, the current legal framework is too rigid for it to achieve the desired public health goal, hence the call for reform.

India seems to have given hope to other developing countries (and its BRICS fellow, South Africa) in the compulsory licensing game. Only time will tell as to its health and economic impact.

Is this a wise move and should other African countries follow suit?

  • For Compulsory Licenses for pharmaceuticals: An inconvenient truth?, see here
  • What limitations does TRIPS put on compulsory licensing?, see here
  • For WTO's frequently asked questions (FAQs) on compulsory licensing of pharmaceuticals, see here
  • TRIPS and public health (Doha Declaration), see herehere and here
  • Patents, Parallel Importation and Compulsory Licensing of HIV/AIDS Drugs: The Experience of Kenya, see here
  • The South Africa AIDS Controversy: A Case Study in Patent Law and Policy, see here



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