In Practice

How patent law reform can improve affordability and accessibility of medicines in South Africa: Four medicine case studies

C Tomlinson, C Waterhouse, Y Q Hu, S Meyer, H Moyo


South Africa (SA) is in the process of amending its patent laws. Since its 2011 inception, Fix the Patent Laws, a coalition of 40 patient groups, has advocated for reform of SA’s patent laws to improve affordability of medicines in the country. Building on two draft policies (2013, 2017) and a consultative framework (2016) for reform of SA’s patent laws, Cabinet approved phase 1 of the Intellectual Property Policy of the Republic of South Africa on 23 May 2018. Fix the Patent Laws welcomed the policy, but highlighted concerns regarding the absence of important technical details, as well as the urgent need for government to develop bills, regulations and guidelines to provide technical detail and to codify and implement patent law reform in the country. In this article, we explore how reforms proposed in SA’s new intellectual property policy could improve access to medicine through four medicine case studies.

Authors' affiliations

C Tomlinson, Fix the Patent Laws, Johannesburg, South Africa

C Waterhouse, Doctors Without Borders, Johannesburg, South Africa

Y Q Hu, Doctors Without Borders, Johannesburg, South Africa

S Meyer, Cancer Alliance, Cape Town, South Africa

H Moyo, Cancer Alliance, Cape Town, South Africa

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Patents; Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights; TRIPS; Flexibilities; Cancer; South Africa

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2019;109(6):387-391. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2019.v109i6.14001

Article History

Date submitted: 2019-05-31
Date published: 2019-05-31

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