Friday, August 19, 2011

AIDS treatment in Africa at the crossroads with looming drugs ban

I attended an insightful intellectual property workshop in Kampala. It is amazing how much access to essential medicines such as ARVs has to do with intellectual property laws.
Would you believe for instance that come 2016, generic AIDS drugs which are consumed in Uganda (originally from India) will no longer be permitted owing to international trade agreements(TRIPS)?
The Ugandan parliament has shelved a bill(industrial properties bill) which would buy Uganda some time (under the flexibilities of TRIPS). Now Uganda faces the real possibility of having to buy ARVs from western pharmaceutical companies at prices beyond the reach of the overwhelming majority of Ugandans.
Generic drugs made AIDS treatment possible for millions in the developing world now that the grace period is running out for copy the formula of these drugs by pharmaceutical companies in low-income countries then the real prospect of drug stock outs becomes a real and present danger.
Can parliament wake up to its mandate before millions die out of their negliegnce?
Of course the whole international trade law is ranged against the poor world and serves 'big pharma' but our own negliegence may worsen matters.

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