[Ip-health] IP-Watch: Concerns Erupt Over Leaked Pharma Lobbying Plan Against IP Policy In South Africa

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Wed Jan 22 06:33:53 PST 2014


http://www.ip-watch.org/2014/01/22/concerns-erupt-over-leaked-pharma-lobbying-plan-against-ip-policy-in-south-africa/

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Concerns Erupt Over Leaked Pharma Lobbying Plan Against IP Policy In South
Africa

Published on 22 January 2014 @ 3:14 pm

By Linda Daniels <http://www.ip-watch.org/author/linda-daniels/> for
Intellectual Property Watch

The South African minister leading the charge in drafting a revised
intellectual property policy for the country has expressed his dismay at
reports of a pharmaceutical company campaign aimed at derailing the process
of implementing the new IP policy.

Speaking to *Intellectual Property Watch*, Trade and Industry Minister Rob
Davies said he echoes the sentiments of his cabinet colleague, national
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, who called the lobbying attempt by big
pharma against the draft IP policy as “a plan for genocide.”

The ministers were responding to an initial report by the Mail & Guardian
newspaper which revealed a nine-page document titled, “Campaign to prevent
damage to innovation from the proposed draft national IP policy in South
Africa.”

Link to full leaked document
here<http://cdn.mg.co.za/content/documents/2014/01/16/skmbt36314011511040.pdf>
 [pdf].

The newspaper reported that the drug companies’ umbrella body, the
Innovative Pharmaceutical Association of South Africa (IPASA), chose a
Washington-based, lobbying firm called Public Affairs Engagement (PAE) to
lead the charge against the draft IP policy in South Africa. PAE was,
according to the plan, meant to launch a persuasive campaign throughout
Africa and Europe in a bid to indirectly persuade the South African
government to strengthen, instead of weaken, patent protection for crucial
drugs.

Patent protection for drugs as well as a substantive patent review system
are some of the key features of the draft IP policy which was published by
the South African Trade and Industry Ministry in the government gazette in
September 2013.

The policy has generally been well received by health activist groups such
as the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF,
Doctors without Borders) who have in the recent past actively lobbied for a
change in local patent laws in order to effect more affordable medicines in
the country.

The revised IP policy is available
here<http://www.ip-watch.org/2014/01/22/concerns-erupt-over-leaked-pharma-lobbying-plan-against-ip-policy-in-south-africa/www.gov.za/documents/download.php?f=198116>
.

In reaction to the reported lobby attempt to sway opinion against the draft
IP policy, Davies said: “This is a lobby attempt and it’s envisioning a few
dirty tricks…. This is to take it outside the realm of a normal democratic
debate.”

“If someone says we must register patents without review then they must say
it in a [public] debate. We are moving in a direction in striking a balance
between innovation, affordable medicines and to modernise our IP regime,”
Davies said.

The reported lobbying attempt has attracted a chorus of local condemnation
including from the TAC (see statement
here<http://www.tac.org.za/news/tac-responds-big-pharma-plan-derail-patent-law-reform-south-africa>
).

Following the furore, IPASA released a statement distancing itself from the
reported lobbying campaign against the draft IP policy.

The statement reads in part: “Innovative Pharmaceutical Association SA
(IPASA) can confirm that it has not engaged the consultancy PAE to lobby on
Intellectual Property or any other matter in South Africa. PAE submitted a
proposal for a campaign, which was reviewed and subsequently rejected by
IPASA members and no payment or pledge has been made in any respect.”

The full IPASA statement is available
here<http://www.politicsweb.co.za/politicsweb/view/politicsweb/en/page71654?oid=515585&sn=Detail&pid=71616>
.

Despite this denial, it was reported by the GroundUp website that the first
phase of the lobbying campaign was about to proceed.

A leaked email <http://keionline.org/sites/default/files/merck-email.pdf> [pdf]
available on the Knowledge Ecology International website shows the plan was
underway.

While the reported lobby against the draft IP bill has again brought the
draft IP bill into the public discourse, no further light has been shed on
when exactly the revised IP policy will come into effect in South Africa.

Davies explained that a long process lies ahead including collating all
submissions that were made during the public submission process and the
creation of a policy document.

He added: “It’s not likely to be completed before the end of this
administration.”

South Africans are expected to head to the polls in this year for the
general elections.



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