eladora /
30 September 2016Africa

South African protesters demand patent law be ‘fixed’

More than 1,000 protesters representing different patient groups marched on September 27 in Pretoria, South Africa, to demand that the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) amends the patent law on medicine supply.

Under the slogan ‘ Fix the Patent Laws’, which is also an organisation, protesters want the law to be amended so that medicines would be made available to patients at a cheaper price.

Nkhensani Mavasa, national chairperson of the Treatment Action Campaign, reportedly said: “Currently people are suffering and dying because medicines for cancer, hepatitis, tuberculosis, mental health and many other diseases are too expensive.”

She added: “While we won the fight for first-line HIV medicines, we lost the battle for almost all other medicines.”

HIV activists have previously been successful in campaigning against patents for antiretroviral treatment, which according to news website  Quartz Africa has led to a 96% decrease in the cost of basic treatment since 2000.

It has been 15 years since the adoption of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, which reaffirms the flexibility of TRIPS member states to circumvent patent rights to provide better access to essential medicines.

Back in July, the government approved a new intellectual property consultative framework for South Africa.

At the march, the Fix the Patent Laws campaign handed over a detailed submission of recommendations on this consultative framework to the DTI.

Cassey Chambers, from the South African Depression and Anxiety Group, reportedly said: “The government has a moral, legal and constitutional obligation to ensure that everyone can access the medicines they need—yet 15 years down the line and we are still putting the profits of industry before the lives of the people.”

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