Concerns Erupt Over Leaked Pharma Lobbying Plan Against IP Policy In South Africa 22/01/2014 by Linda Daniels for Intellectual Property Watch 4 Comments Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The South African minister leading the charge in drafting a revised intellectual property policy for the country has expressed his dismay at reports of a pharmaceutical company campaign aimed at derailing the process of implementing the new IP policy. Speaking to Intellectual Property Watch, Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said he echoes the sentiments of his cabinet colleague, national Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, who called the lobbying attempt by big pharma against the draft IP policy as “a plan for genocide.” The ministers were responding to an initial report by the Mail & Guardian newspaper which revealed a nine-page document titled, “Campaign to prevent damage to innovation from the proposed draft national IP policy in South Africa.” Link to full leaked document here [pdf]. “This is a lobby attempt and it’s envisioning a few dirty tricks” – South African Trade Minister Davies The newspaper reported that the drug companies’ umbrella body, the Innovative Pharmaceutical Association of South Africa (IPASA), chose a Washington-based, lobbying firm called Public Affairs Engagement (PAE) to lead the charge against the draft IP policy in South Africa. PAE was, according to the plan, meant to launch a persuasive campaign throughout Africa and Europe in a bid to indirectly persuade the South African government to strengthen, instead of weaken, patent protection for crucial drugs. Patent protection for drugs as well as a substantive patent review system are some of the key features of the draft IP policy which was published by the South African Trade and Industry Ministry in the government gazette in September 2013. In reaction to the reported lobby attempt to sway opinion against the draft IP policy, Davies said: “This is a lobby attempt and it’s envisioning a few dirty tricks…. This is to take it outside the realm of a normal democratic debate.” “If someone says we must register patents without review then they must say it in a [public] debate. We are moving in a direction in striking a balance between innovation, affordable medicines and to modernise our IP regime,” Davies said. The revised IP policy is available here [pdf]. The policy has generally been well received by health activist groups such as the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors without Borders) who have in the recent past actively lobbied for a change in local patent laws in order to effect more affordable medicines in the country. The reported lobbying attempt has attracted a chorus of local condemnation including from the TAC (see statement here). Following the furore, IPASA released a statement distancing itself from the reported lobbying campaign against the draft IP policy. The statement reads in part: “Innovative Pharmaceutical Association SA (IPASA) can confirm that it has not engaged the consultancy PAE to lobby on Intellectual Property or any other matter in South Africa. PAE submitted a proposal for a campaign, which was reviewed and subsequently rejected by IPASA members and no payment or pledge has been made in any respect.” The full IPASA statement is available here. Despite this denial, it was reported by the GroundUp website that the first phase of the lobbying campaign was about to proceed. A leaked email [pdf] available on the Knowledge Ecology International website shows the plan was underway. While the reported lobby against the draft IP bill has again brought the draft IP bill into the public discourse, no further light has been shed on when exactly the revised IP policy will come into effect in South Africa. Davies explained that a long process lies ahead including collating all submissions that were made during the public submission process and the creation of a policy document. He added: “It’s not likely to be completed before the end of this administration.” South Africans are expected to head to the polls in this year for the general elections. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related Linda Daniels may be reached at email@example.com."Concerns Erupt Over Leaked Pharma Lobbying Plan Against IP Policy In South Africa" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.