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South Africa Publishes Draft Intellectual Property Policy With Potential Effects For Pharma Patents

“South Africa’s government has published a draft intellectual property policy with potential far-reaching effects for pharmaceutical patents, which rights groups hailed Monday as a move towards lower medicine costs,” Agence France-Presse reports. “If accepted, the reforms will facilitate the production of cheaper, generic medicines, according to Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and local AIDS-activist group Treatment Action Campaign,” AFP writes, adding, “The policies ‘set the stage for changes that promise to increase competition in the pharmaceutical sector and lower the price of medicines in South Africa,’ the groups said in a statement.” The news service notes, “South Africa’s current laws allow firms to renew patents indefinitely by changing minute elements in a medicine’s composition,” while “[t]he new patent policies will allow the production of generic medicines and grant over five million South Africans living with AIDS or multidrug-resistant (MDR) tuberculosis access to treatments” (9/9).