360° Coverage : As Pharma Eyes Patent Changes In South Africa, A Government...

2 Updates
As Pharma Eyes Patent Changes In South Africa, A Government Minister Cries 'Genocide'

As Pharma Eyes Patent Changes In South Africa, A Government Minister Cries 'Genocide'

Jan 19 2014, 3:09am CST | by

Once again, South Africa is shaping up as a key battleground for the pharmaceutical industry and its hopes for protecting patents. And the latest skirmish is threatening to turn into yet another...

Filed under: news


39 weeks ago

As Pharma Eyes Patent Changes In South Africa, A Government Minister Cries 'Genocide'

Jan 19 2014, 3:09am CST | by

Once again, South Africa is shaping up as a key battleground for the pharmaceutical industry and its hopes for protecting patents. And the latest skirmish is threatening to turn into yet another public relations problem for drug makers, which are being accused by the Health Minister of planning “genocide” against his citizens.

The newest conflagration can be traced to a draft policy issued last September by the South African government to revise rules for governing intellectual property. If implemented, the guidelines would allow for greater production of low-cost generics, which the government wants to make more widely available.

Patient advocacy groups had complained that South Africa has not amended its patent laws to incorporate or implement the 2001 WTO agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, or TRIPS, which offers compulsory licensing as an option to countries to make patented drugs more affordable.

The initiative, however, has struck a sensitive nerve with drug makers, which have already fought some celebrated battles over patent rights elsewhere – notably, in India, where the government has the pharmaceutical industry in knots over its application and interpretation of patent laws and international trade rights.

The draft policy comes more than a decade after South Africa figured prominently in the battle over AIDS drugs. Several global drug makers filed a lawsuit to prevent the country from allowing low-cost generics of AIDS medicines to be made, a move that backfired when the industry encountered widespread criticism for a strategy that emphasized profits at the expense of a growing number of sick people.

This is yet another reason why industry reaction to the draft policy is being closely watched. And a recent proposal made by a Washington, D.C., lobbying firm to industry trade groups in the US and South Africa is lending an air of déjà vu. The proposal, which reportedly would cost about $450,000, spells out a somewhat covert plan for blunting what could become a “weak intellectual property regime.”

“If the principles in the draft (policy) are adopted,” the proposal warns, “not only with South Africa become less hospitable to the life sciences sector, it may also provide the model for other developing nations, inside and outside Africa, including such important aspiring economies as India and Brazil.

“…South Africa is now ground zero for the debate on the value of strong intellectual property protection. If the battle is lost here, the effects will resonate… Without a vigorous campaign, opponents of strong intellectual property will prevail – not just in South Africa, but eventually in much of the rest of the developing world.”

The proposal suggests forming a coalition called ‘Forward South Africa’ that would be directed from Washington and work toward delaying and, ultimately, modifying the draft policy. The coalition would try to emphasize a connection between wealth and health – strong intellectual property rules can bolster the economy.

At the same time, the proposal also suggests pushing back against non-governmental organizations by arguing that the central health issue in South Africa is poor infrastructure, and not drug pricing or a subsequent lack of access to medicines. In this way, the nature and tone of the debate would be changed (here is the proposal).

The proposal never mentions anything about withholding access to medicines, directly buying influence or any illegal activity. Just the same, the initiative prompted criticism from such advocacy groups as Doctors Without Borders and Treatment Action Campaign (see here and here).

But the harshest response came from South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, who accused multi-national drug makers of conspiring against the country. “This document can sentence many South Africans to death. That is no exaggeration. This is a plan for genocide,” he told The Mail & Guardian.

“They are not hoping to influence government. They are hoping to influence society to turn against government. If you read carefully what they are saying, they want to prove to patients that the lack of access to medicine has nothing to do with intellectual property, but everything to do with incompetence of the government.”

For their part, the trade groups have quickly distanced themselves from the proposal, which was made by Public Affairs Engagement, a firm that is headed by former US Ambassador James Glassman, a former undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs in the George W. Bush administration.

For instance, the Innovative Pharmaceutical Association of South Africa issued a statement yesterday saying it has “not engaged” PAE to “lobby on intellectual property or any other matter… PAE submitted a proposal for a campaign, which was reviewed and subsequently rejected by IPASA members, and no payment or pledge has been made in any respect.”/>/>

Similarly, the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America denied “engaging outside parties to assist us, (but) we will do our best to make sure that our voice and others who believe that strong intellectual property protections are in the best interest of South Africa are part of the dialogue. Conducting advocacy of this nature is a way of participating in the democratic process.”

Both trade groups added that they support the “broad objectives” found in the South African draft policy, and that may be so. But even though drug makers may have legitimate concerns about patent protections, they will have to find different ways to get their messages across without seeing their plans backfire and cause the sort of public relations problems that previously haunted them for years to come.

Source: Forbes Business


7 weeks ago

Khazanah throws MAS RM6b lifeline

Aug 29 2014 5:01pm CDT | Source: Business Times Singapore

August 30, 2014 1:15 AMKHAZANAH Nasional will inject RM6 billion (SS$2.4 billion) over three years to resuscitate loss-making Malaysia Airlines (MAS) under a recovery plan that includes even an Act of Parliament. Other key moves are migrating its operations, assets and liabilities to a new company (NewCo) and slashing t ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore


7 weeks ago

MAS posts loss of RM307m for Q2

Aug 28 2014 5:00pm CDT | Source: Business Times Singapore

August 29, 2014 1:13 AMMALAYSIA Airlines (MAS) registered a loss of RM307 million (S$122 million) for the second quarter to end-June, but warned of worse to come in the second half when the "full financial impact of the double tragedies ...
Source: Business Times Singapore   Full article at: Business Times Singapore


Don't miss ...


<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.


blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

iPhone app to ensure eye health
Washington, Oct 19 (IANS) Researchers have successfully used an iPhone app for imaging the inside of the eye of immobile and paediatric patients.
How the birth season can trigger mood disorders
London, Oct 19 (IANS) The risk of developing mood disorders is impacted by the season in which you are born in, a research showed.
Reheat your pasta to avoid fat
London, Oct 19 (IANS) Love pasta but hate to add those extra kilos around your waist? Cool it down and reheat it again.
Ebola: Global fight to be coordinated with West African national plans
Accra, Oct 19 (IANS/WAM) The UN and the governments of the countries at the forefront of efforts to turn back the unfolding Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa have agreed to ensure that the UN system adopts a coordinated approach to global support being mobilised for national-level crisis response plans.

Latest from the Network

Bush shoe-tossing painting hits record at Doha auction
Doha, Oct 15 (IANS/EFE) A controversial painting by Iranian artist Mahmud Obaidi, depicting an Iraqi journalist throwing shoe in 2008 at then US president George W. Bush, was sold for $62,500 at a Sotheby's auction in...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
US offers $45 mn bounty for eight terror leaders
Washington, Oct 15 (IANS) The US said Tuesday it is offering rewards totalling up to 45 million dollars for information on eight key leaders of the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) terrorist organisation. The...
Read more on Politics Balla
UNSC extends peacekeeping mission's term in Abyei
United Nations, Oct 15 (IANS) The UN Security Council (UNSC) has renewed the mandate of the UN peacekeeping mission in the Abyei border region between Sudan and South Sudan. In an unanimously adopted resolution, the...
Read more on Politics Balla
Ebola cases in West Africa could reach 10,000 per week: WHO
Geneva, Oct 15 (IANS) The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that the Ebola epidemic in West Africa could reach 5,000 to 10,000 cases per week by the first week of December. "Quite frankly, ladies and...
Read more on Business Balla
Turkey, Singapore sign strategic partnership agreement
Ankara, Oct 15 (IANS) Turkey and Singapore have signed a strategic partnership agreement to boost economic, political and cultural cooperation, as well as security collaboration, during the official visit of...
Read more on Politics Balla
Christina Aguilera is returning to 'The Voice' USA
Christina Aguilera will return to 'The Voice' USA next year. The 'Your Body' hitmaker, who previously shared a rotating spot on the judging panel with Shakira, has been replaced by Gwen Stefani this season as she is...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
Kesha's music producer hits back
Kesha is being countersued by her record company boss, Dr. Luke. The 41-year-old music producer, who runs Kemosabe Records, claims the 27-year-old 'Tik Tok' singer is a liar and is trying to extort him after she accused...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
Jason Derulo won't get back together with Jordin Sparks
Jason Derulo insists his split from Jordin Sparks is permanent. The 'Talk Dirty' hitmaker, who recently ended his relationship with the 'No Air' singer after three years of dating, has ruled out getting back together...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
Josh Groban feels 'very lucky' to be dating Kat Dennings
Josh Groban feels ''very lucky'' to be dating Kat Dennings. The 'Brave' hitmaker was very nervous before singing in front of the '2 Broke Girls' actress for the first time at the Carousel of Hope Ball in Beverly Hills,...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
Australian Richard Flanagan wins 2014 Man Booker prize
London, Oct 15 (IANS) The first Man Booker prize to allow American nominees was Tuesday night won by an Australian, with Richard Flanagan triumphing for a novel of love and war that tells the harrowing stories of...
Read more on Celebrity Balla