The Trade and Industry Department expects to submit a revised version of its draft intellectual property policy to the Cabinet by the end of March, a senior official says. The department is facing intense lobbying from health activists and pharmaceutical companies as the draft policy proposes closer scrutiny of patent applications for medicines, a simpler system for issuing compulsory licences and mechanisms for tightening the criteria for granting patents. The national government has never yet issued a compulsory licence for a medicine, preferring to negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for lower prices in exchange for guaranteed volumes. It has had marked success in negotiating lower prices for HIV medicines and some vaccines, but has faced a tougher task with other drugs such as those used for treating cancer. The draft intellectual property policy was published for comment in August 2017, and interested parties had until November 17 to comment. Thirty-two submissions were rec...

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