People in South Africa are needlessly suffering and dying because many patented medicines are unaffordable. The time to Fix South Africa’s Patent Laws is now!
Activists from the Fix The Patent Laws Campaign will march to the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) on 9 November 2021 to urge the government to reform our intellectual property laws to enable improved access to many medicines for COVID-19, cancer, mental health, TB, and other illnesses.
Activists will be holding crosses and a ceremonial coffin to commemorate all the people who have needlessly lost their lives because expensive patented medicines remained out of reach. A full course of bendamustine to treat lymphoma cancer, for example, costs R50,616 per person and is unavailable in the public sector because of its price. Generics for this medicine in India cost only R9,024, but because of our outdated patent laws, prices are artificially high. Members of the media are invited to cover the march to the offices of the DTIC.
Patents have long-acted as a barrier to equitable and affordable access to medicines. While the battle for affordable HIV medicines was won in the 2000s, medicines and other health products for many other diseases and conditions like cancer, TB, mental health, diabetes and COVID-19 remain priced out of reach. Unfair patents prevent competition from generic manufacturers, keeping the price of medicines artificially high and limiting the supply of medicines. Unless we #FixPatentLaw now, access to affordable COVID-19 treatments and vaccine booster shots will also be jeopardised.
The DTIC urgently needs to publish amendments to the Patents Act for public comment so that people are not denied life-saving treatments or vaccines and the right to access healthcare is fulfilled!
A more detailed statement outlining our demands will be released on Monday 8 November 2021. Members of the media are invited to take note of the following details for the march:
- Date: 9 November 2021
- Time: 10:30 – 13:00
- START: Grass bank opposite Maupa-Naga Police Station – Park St, Sunnyside, Pretoria (https://goo.gl/maps/mdaxwzFRU1avBmr49).
- END: Department of Trade, Industry and Competition – 77 Meintjies Street, Corner Robert Sobukwe and Meintjies Road, Sunnyside, Pretoria (https://goo.gl/maps/fnFPL6AXrtxk697G6).
- All COVID-19 health, safety and social distancing protocols will be in place.
For media queries, contact:
Julia Chaskalson (firstname.lastname@example.org 083 440 2674)
Candice Sehome (Candice.Sehoma@joburg.msf.org 083 238 5123)