Fix the Patent Laws (FTPL) leas partners Medecines Sans Frontiers held their first training workshop and civil society consulting meeting on July 24th-25th at the offices of Section 27 in Johannesburg.
The training workshop brought together civil society organisations and stakeholders to learn about patent law reform. South African urgently needs to reform patent laws for medicines and technology so that patients can access treatment.
The participatory workshop brought an innovative group from different disciplines: law, activism, journalism and social media. Engaging the attendees in each section of training and, finding out from each what medications or devices would they like to see patent law reformed on.
What does this mean to the average person? South Africa’s patent office has been ever greening patents on essential drugs. Meaning small changes are made and the patents reapplied for another 20 years. This means that drug company owning the patent get to keep prices high due to exclusivity. The consumer ultimately pays the price due to unaffordability and lack of a generic version. The price paid by patients is disability, suffering and death.
There are many aspects to fixing the patent laws and the most important and first step is public awareness. Knowing what and how this problem affects the patients suffering will help us to reform the patent laws.
The laws need to be changed and the path is clear yet it is evident that the process is going to take time. It has worked in India and the same fight and reform is needed here. Evidently, patent holders don’t want profits cut and will place a stiff fight. Yet, the need is great enough for those that will greatly welcome the change.
Thanks MSF, TAC and Section 27 for making this possible. Join the movement at www.fixthepatentlaws.org