Kenyan High Court’s Overturning Of Anti-Counterfeit Law Hailed

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The High Court of Kenya yesterday ruled that the country’s 2008 Anti-Counterfeit Act was too broad and could interfere with the flow of legal generic medicines to patients, leading the UNAIDS organisation to issue a statement praising the decision. It also said intellectual property rights should not be put before life and health, according to reports.

“A vast majority of people in Kenya rely on quality generic drugs for their daily survival. Through this important ruling, the High Court of Kenya has upheld a fundamental element of the right to health,” UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé said in a release. “This decision will set an important precedent for ensuring access to life-saving drugs around the world.”

High Court Judge Mumbi Ngugi ruled that the act is “vague and could undermine access to affordable generic medicines since the Act had failed to clearly distinguish between counterfeit and generic medicines,” according to UNAIDS.

The court called on Kenya’s Parliament to review the Act and “remove ambiguities that could result in arbitrary seizures of generic medicines under the pretext of fighting counterfeit drugs,” UNAIDS said.

The judgment also said that intellectual property rights should not override the right to life and health, it said.

The publication AllAfrica reported that the case dealt with the confusion between quality control efforts and intellectual property rights. That issue is also under debate at the World Health Organization.

Sidibé said it is possible to have both generic drugs and strong anti-counterfeit laws.

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