The #ForumAt8, 29 Sep Is it time to review our patent laws on medicines?

Civil Society groups have called on government to take urgent steps to fix South Africa’s outdated patent laws, to ensure that every citizen has access to the medicines they need. This is as many people suffer and die because medicines for cancer, hepatitis, tuberculosis, mental health and many other diseases are too expensive. Such medicines for deadly diseases remain inaccessible to many South Africans, as they are being manufactured by pharmaceutical companies who have been awarded long-term patent rights, making the drugs too expensive for ordinary citizens. But even if the South African government committed to reforming patent laws in a draft National Policy on Intellectual Property published in 2013, nothing has changed and many people still suffer unnecessarily. Now, pressure groups insist government has a moral, legal and Constitutional obligation to ensure that everyone can access the medicines they need, and not to put profits of industry before the lives of people. On the Forum28 we ask: “is it time to review our patent laws on medicines?”