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SA’s patent laws are denying cancer patients access to life-saving medicines that can be bought in India for a fraction of the cost they command here, according to a report to be released on Tuesday by health activists. The report is to be handed over to the department of trade and industry along with a detailed submission in support of its draft intellectual property policy, which was released for public comment in August. The policy contains proposals for closer scrutiny of patent applications, a simpler system for issuing compulsory licences, and mechanisms for tightening up on the criteria for granting patents, all measures supported by the Fix the Patent Laws Coalition (FTPL) because they believe they will boost competition and drive down prices. SA routinely grants and upholds patents on cancer medicines that could be challenged and rejected if the country had adopted stronger patentability criteria, patent examination processes and opposition procedures. The report analysed 2...

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