Cape Town - A supplier of generic medicines in Cape Town says pharmaceutical companies’ objections to draft legislation to amend patent laws boils down to their fearing losing their monopoly.
Pharma Dynamics’ chief executive, Paul Anley, said companies had “overreacted” to the proposed intellectual property legislation.
“I think the warning they use, that the new policy would remove foreign investment, remains a threat. (But) they manufacture their own products at the lowest cost. Given their ability to launch pseudo-generics they continue to control the market… I just think the whole debacle is a storm in a tea cup,” he told journalists yesterday.
Anley was commenting on the dispute between the pharmaceutical industry and Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.
Last month Motsoaledi accused a group of multinational pharmaceutical companies of conspiring against the state and people of South Africa.
He described as “a genocide” and conspiracy of “satanic magnitude” an apparent campaign by these companies to prevent the draft policy being adopted.
The policy is aimed at making life-saving drugs more affordable through amendments to patent regulations.
NGOs and health activists have also called for the intellectual property policy to be reviewed as they believe it gives a monopoly to companies who patent a drug.
Anley said while generic manufacturers continued to gain ground, competition was stifled by the “evergreening” of patents and the launching of pseudo-generics by originator companies.
The term “pseudo-generic” refers to an identical drug to the original that is launched in different packaging by an innovator company before the patent expires and is sold at a slightly lower price to compete in the generics market.
Anley said while such drugs were slightly cheaper than the originals, they remained “much more expensive” than other generics.
The practice prolonged the companies’ patent period, discouraged the launch of “true generics” and stifled competition. Even medical aid schemes set their prices based on these so-called generics, Anley said. - Cape Argus