Patients living with HIV/Aids, cancer and kidney disease have called on the Department of Intellectual Property (DIP) to make it harder for drug makers to extend their patents, claiming the practice prevents poor patients from accessing life-saving medicines.
This comes as the department drafts new guidelines for issuing drug patents. Pajchima Tanasanti, director-general of the department, said the DIP wants to hear the concerns of patients, as the issue concerns their ability to access drugs. The guidelines for drug patent registration are expected to be complete in August. They will be based on the views of all parties involved, including patients, drug producers, academics and legal experts.
Registered patents provide 20 years of protection for a drug formula, and allow producers to quote prices as they see fit. However, patients have become concerned about so-called “evergreening”, in which patent holders – typically large, multinational drug companies – can apply for new patents by making only minor changes to a drug formula. The strategy allows them to keep an existing patent in play for much longer than intended.
I didn’t even know of this Governmental group but it welds some serious power despite its odd initials. This is a serious issue as you can see. A company can ‘modify’ a drug a bit then extend and keep pricing high through this loophole. For any persons needing life saving drugs, this issue will be critical later in the year. Now you know.