On Thursday, 14 June 2012 the Peoples Health Movement, the Treatment Action Campaign and Médecins Sans Frontières will host a public lecture at the University of Cape Town. The lecture will consider intellectual property protection in South Africa and how it impacts health, as well as government’s moves to amend the law and the opportunities to influence this process.

Currently, South Africa provides protection on intellectual property beyond what is required internationally. Because of this, medicines off patent in other parts of the world sometimes remain on patent and extremely expensive in South Africa.

The high cost of medicines under patent can block access to medicine for patients in urgent need. Because of their high price, patented medicines are often not provided through the public sector or fully covered in the private sector.
Importantly, South Africa is currently undergoing a process of reviewing its intellectual property laws. A draft policy concerning intellectual property is expected to be released for public comment in the upcoming months. This policy will set out amendments to be made to the law.

Now is a crucial time for the public and civil society to be aware of how our intellectual property laws impact health and to push back against pressure from industry to ramp up intellectual property protection in South Africa at the expense of our lives.

This lecture is open to the public.