The Department of Trade and Industry’s draft intellectual-property policy places too much emphasis on drug firms’ "ever-greening" patents on medicines, fuelling misconceptions about the practice, according to the Innovative Pharmaceutical Association of SA (Ipasa). Ipasa is a trade body representing multinational drug firms that hold the patents on brand-name products. These companies have come under fire from health activists for patenting modifications on old drugs, which the activists say are not really new inventions. "There is such a misunderstanding of the concept of incremental innovation. [It] is still seen as a means to block generics, which is a total misconception," said Ipasa CEO Konji Sebati. "If you move from injecting a drug four times a day to long-release, a lot of research has gone into that," she said. The draft policy’s proposals for introducing substantive search and examination procedures for patent applications, which would see them closely scrutinised for nov...

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