Cosatu condemns pharma patents move

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Pharma REUTERS A pharmacist counts pills in a pharmacy.

Johannesburg - Cosatu on Saturday condemned multinational pharmaceutical companies rejection of the strategy devised to oppose proposed patent laws.

The move by pharmaceutical companies to block the adoption of the Intellectual Property Policy was motivated by greed, said Vusimuzi Bhengu, who edits the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) publication Shopsteward.

“We support the Minister of Health... Aaron Motsoaledi's statement that the planned campaign by multinational pharmaceutical companies against these proposals is genocide,” Bhengu said in a statement.

“This plot is tantamount to treachery as it seeks to stop Parliament from exercising its duty to pass legislation that improves the lives of South Africans.”

Mail&Guardian reported about an alleged plot drawn up by lobby group Public Affairs Engagement (PAE) on behalf of a number of multinational drug companies operating in South Africa, represented by the Innovative Pharmaceutical Association of SA (Ipasa).

According to the report, a document penned by the PAE detailed a plan to fight the trade and industry department's Intellectual Property Policy.

The section of this draft legislation relating to health reportedly aimed at weakening protection for drug patents, which would drive down prices for a range of medications, including antiretrovirals and tuberculosis treatment.

Bhengu called on government to stop pharmaceutical companies from obtaining patents on drugs which would allow them to make high profits at the cost of the poor.

“Over and above, there should be regulation prices of drugs in order to increase access and affordability to all people,” he said. - Sapa



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