LAW AND MEDICINE
Patents block increasing number of people from accessing cheaper medicines
The aim is to develop and implement a policy that is consistent with SA’s international obligations and to ensure access to innovative products, write Jonathan Berger and Achal Prabhala
Reading Jasson Urbach’s latest attack on the draft intellectual property (IP) policy (New patents policy the wrong cure for improving access to medicines, September 13) reminds us of the story of the scorpion and the frog, and that doomed river crossing. Despite the assurance that it was not in his interest to sting the frog, the scorpion just couldn’t help himself. "It’s in my nature," he shrugged as they both drowned. As a self-styled independent economist, Urbach should know better than to rely largely on the conclusions of a single, contested study. To his credit, he also throws in a red herring and a misplaced quotation from one of SA’s foremost scientists. As a director of the Free Market Foundation and head of its health policy unit, he probably couldn’t help himself. So let’s start with the single study. For those of us old enough to remember the battles around access to antiretroviral (ARV) medicines in the early 2000s, we’re pretty familiar with the work of Prof Amir Attar...