On Friday 20th February TAC wrote to the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department leading on the finalisation of the National Intellectual Property (IP) Policy that affects medicine pricing. The policy has been in development for over six years now and crossed three ANC-led administrations. We did not receive a response on when the policy would be finalised. We will continue to pressure the DTI and government going forward to ensure the law in South Africa is in line with international standards to protect access to medicines. You can read the letter below.
For more information on the campaign to Fix the Patent Laws read our activist guide or socio-economic paper.
Mr MacDonald Netshitenzhe
Chief Director of Policy and Legislation
Department of Trade and Industry,
20th February 2015
Dear Mr Netshitenzhe,
RE: Finalisation of the National IP Policy
We are writing to request information regarding the finalisation of the National Policy on Intellectual Property. It is well over a year now since the end of the public comment period on the draft policy in October 2013.
At a National IP Summit arranged in October 2014 by the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and 13 partner organisations, you and other DTI representatives stated that the policy would be finalised before the end of 2014 and that the bill drafting process would begin in early 2015. This deadline has been missed. Furthermore, a tweet sent by @the_dti in response to @DeniseNicholson (@the_dti Please advise when the IP Policy will be approved by Cabinet and Parliament and when the Copyright Act will be amended? Urgent!!!) in December 2014 stated that the policy would be finalised (and approved by Cabinet) in February 2015 (@DeniseNicholson They will both be finalised next year February).
TAC hopes to see the policy finalised by the end of February 2015 as promised in December. We are writing to gain clarity on this situation. Please respond to us with a date of finalisation, or the final policy, by Friday 27th February 2015 - failing which this letter will be made public.
The reform of the patent system in South Africa remains one of TAC's five key priority areas this year as decided by our elected leadership. We will continue to publicly campaign until pro-public health legislation is adopted and utilised.
We also request for the Regulatory Impact Assessment carried out by Genesis Analytics to be made public by the DTI. We believe that having this information available to all interested parties is indisputably in the public interest.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me. We await your earliest response.
Treatment Action Campaign
Director General at DTI Lionel October
Deputy Director General at DTI Zodwa Ntuli
Director: Commercial Law and Policy at DTI Simphiwe Ncwana
Deputy Director: Intellectual Property at DTI Meshendri Padayachy