[Ip-health] Brazil and South Africa agree: it’s time to Fix the Patent Laws

Lotti Rutter lotti.rutter at mail.tac.org.za
Wed Oct 9 07:58:23 PDT 2013


Brazil and South Africa agree: it’s time to Fix the Patent
*SA delegation to Brazil get vital opportunity to learn from counterparts
as SA patent reform process gathers pace *

October 9th 2013: Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and the Treatment Action
Campaign (TAC) congratulate the Brazilian government on taking bold steps
to promote access to affordable medicines, and welcome new levels of
cooperation between BRICS government counterparts to reform national patent
laws in South Africa and Brazil.

Like South Africa, Brazil is currently amending its patent laws in order to
benefit its people.

Today at the Brazilian House of Representatives a parliamentary committee
report will be tabled, entitled *Brazil’s Patent Reform: innovation towards
national competitiveness*<http://infojustice.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Brazilian_Patent_Reform.pdf>.
South African Chief Director of Policy and Legislation at the Department of
Trade and Industry (DTI), Macdonald Netshitenzhe, will attend – offering
the DTI an excellent opportunity to learn about certain practices already
being implemented in Brazil with promising results, and discuss what legal
provisions may be absent in both countries, but necessary to enact going

*“This is very timely, as the South Africa’s public comment period to
provide input on the domestic **Draft National Policy on Intellectual
Property, 2013*<http://www.thedti.gov.za/invitations/36816_4-9_TradeIndustry.pdf>
*, closes next week. As government representatives from several countries
congregate in Brasilia, South Africa can take advantage of the discussions
to inform its own national process of intellectual property policy reform,”
says Julia Hill, Access Advocacy Officer for MSF South Africa.*

In Brazil, the report released today should encourage members of Parliament
to support proposed national legislation (*Bill no. H.R.
which would strengthen the intellectual property system to better work with
public health interests in mind. For South Africa, amendments to the
country’s intellectual property laws will only start after the finalization
of a policy framework.

One recommendation in the Brazilian report is to affirm and support the
powers of an independent government body, the National Sanitary Agency
(ANVISA), to veto pharmaceutical patent applications if the product does
not meet standards of innovation defined in national patentability
criteria. ANVISA’s “prior consent” for patent approval is in addition to
examination of applications by the Patents Office. “Prior consent” is based
on the understanding that pharmaceutical companies may attempt to file
multiple undeserved patents on the same medicine over a period of time, in
order to extend their monopoly—a practice that can keep medicine prices
high and limit greater access to treatment for ordinary people.

By contrast, South Africa has no patent examination system in place,
leaving the country vulnerable to abusive patenting practices by
pharmaceutical companies, and inflated medicine prices as a result. Brazil,
for example, granted only 273 pharmaceutical patents during a five-year
period (2003-2008), while South Africa granted 2,442 pharmaceutical patents
in 2008 alone.



The DTI is accepting submissions on the South African *Draft National
Policy on Intellectual Property,
next Thursday, October 17

MSF, TAC and SECTION27 will be handing in their joint submission on this
due date, at the DTI campus in Pretoria. The organizations will be
accepting endorsements on the submission from other South African
associations. International organisations or experts can endorse an open
letter on the South African reform process until Monday, October 14th—please
contact lottirutter at gmail.com for further details.

Brazilian civil society organizations also plan to make a submission to the
DTI, supporting the draft policy’s recommendations for a patent examination
system in South Africa, among other reforms. MSF and the TAC encourage
on-going BRICS cooperation in advancing patent law reform processes that
seek to promote public health.

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