Sipho Mabena
Premium Journalist
3 minute read
19 May 2020
6:00 am

Fix SA’s patent laws, Ramaphosa, or virus vaccine won’t help us

Sipho Mabena

President is told access to medicines in SA is hampered by laws that favour multinational pharmaceutical companies, and a coronavirus vaccine would be unaffordable for most.

Picture for illustration. Picture: AFP / File / NICOLAS ASFOURI

President Cyril Ramaphosa has been alerted to a second Covid-19 emergency if there was no swift action in reforming a patent “monopoly” system currently hampering the country’s access to tools needed to respond effectively to pandemics. Fix the Patent Laws (FTPL), a coalition of 40 patient advocacy groups and civil society organisations, has lamented that access to medicines and other health products in South Africa was hampered by a patent system that allowed for the granting of an excessive number of unwarranted patent monopolies. This results in exorbitant and arbitrary pricing by multinational pharmaceutical companies out for a profit at...