Bitter Pill: Obstacles to Affordable Medicine

HEALTH-PERU: Cost of Medicines Out of Control

When the price of medicines for treating cancer soared by up to 64 percent in 2010, the Peruvian government set up a watchdog commission that will also monitor prices of drugs for diabetes and HIV/AIDS.

HEALTH: Battle Against Dengue Finds a New Front

When an outbreak of dengue fever occurred in the hot and humid north of Australia’s Queensland state in late 2008, Nicola Strange was among hundreds of locals that contracted the mosquito-borne disease.

SOUTH AFRICA: How Better ARV Prices Were Won

South Africa’s recently-awarded tender for antiretroviral drugs halved drug costs for the world’s largest ARV programme. Driven by a better-prepared and more aggressive government, the deal may stand up to criticism better than initially thought.

Intellectual property provisions could put ARV pills out of the reach of Cambodians who need them. Credit: Irwin Loy/IPS

CAMBODIA: EU, India Trade Deal Could Hurt Access to Anti-Retrovirals

Every day, twice a day for the last seven years, Men Thol has swallowed a set of pills that gives him the strength to lead a normal life.

EL SALVADOR: Political Tug-of-War Over Medicines

Two initiatives of the administration of President Mauricio Funes in El Salvador, aimed at increasing competition in the pharmaceutical industry in order to bring down the cost of medicines, are being fought by the opposition in Congress.

Free Trade Threatens Affordable HIV Treatment

With India's role as 'pharmacy to the developing world' seriously threatened by a free trade agreement to be signed with the European Union in December, the fate of cheap or free antiretroviral treatment for people living with HIV and AIDS hangs in balance.

HEALTH-UGANDA: Problems with Anti-Counterfeit Bill Persist

Health rights activists still insist that, despite some improvements to Uganda’s controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Bill, it will affect the availability of generic medicine if enacted in present form.

HEALTH: S. Africa Becomes a Victim of its ARV Treatment Success

Almost a million South Africans are already on lifelong antiretroviral (ARV) treatment and this number is supposed to triple in the next decade if the South African government keeps to its implementation plan.

HEALTH-INDIA: Superbug Boosts Hopes of Rational Drug Use

Howls of protest from doctors and officials in India have followed the naming of the New Delhi Metallo-1 (NDM-1), a gene that can transform infectious bacteria into superbugs that are resistant to the most powerful antibiotics. But other experts hope that the furore on this issue may lead to a rethink on the widespread practice of using medicines indiscriminately.

HEALTH-UGANDA: WHO Happy With Counterfeit Bill; Activists Not

The Uganda office of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the country’s National Drug Authority are satisfied that the new version of the controversial Counterfeit Goods Bill does not threaten the importation and production of generic drugs by conflating them with fake drugs, as the first draft of the bill did. But health rights activists are not convinced.

KENYA: Claim Disputed that Trade Measures “Aid” Counterfeiters

A major pharmaceutical company in Kenya alleges that special trade measures to make medicines available in poor countries create "loopholes" for counterfeit medicines to enter the market – a claim that health rights advocates refute.

HEALTH: Uganda Authority Finding Less Counterfeit Drugs

Uganda’s National Drug Authority (NDA) says the failure rate among samples of medicines tested at their laboratories has fallen by 15 percent from the early 2000s. This serves as a possible indication of a drop in the availability of counterfeit medicines in the East African country.

HEALTH: Kenyans’ Right to Affordable Drugs in Hands of Court

Kenya’s Constitutional Court is due to set a date on Jul 22 for a hearing on the application against the Anti-Counterfeit Act of 2008, of which clauses pertaining to medicines have been suspended pending the court’s decision on whether the law violates the right to health and life.

HEALTH: U.S. Intensifies Anti-Counterfeit Drive in East Africa

The U.S.’s recent promotion of intellectual property (IP) rights in Uganda is an indirect way of introducing the Anti-Counterfeits Trade Agreement (ACTA) debate in East Africa.

Hans Hogerzeil: Patented ARVs are the biggest public health challenge. Credit: Isolda Agazzi/IPS

HEALTH: Intellectual Property Rights Remain A Barrier to Drugs

Intellectual property (IP) rights are a key reason for high medicine prices, rendering such medicines unaffordable and therefore out of reach for poor people. While mechanisms exist to circumvent IP, poor countries have been browbeaten into adopting stringent IP laws.

Richard Laing: There is considerable concern about ACTA after the recent seizures of legitimate generic drugs in Europe. Credit: Isolda Agazzi/IPS

HEALTH: East African Laws Confuse Fake and Generic Drugs – WHO

The World Health Organisation (WHO) agrees that the anti-counterfeit legislation that has been adopted or that is under consideration in East Africa threatens the accessibility of affordable generic medicines.

HEALTH-KENYA: Agency Unaware of Anti-Counterfeit Law Suspension

The agency tasked with implementing the Anti-Counterfeit Act of 2008 in Kenya is unaware of the Constitutional Court’s suspension of the law’s application to medicines. Moreover, a large multinational pharmaceutical company has offered to assist the agency in implementing the law with regards to medicines despite the court decision.

Everest Panda gets medicine for her baby from nurse Khetase Kapira in the children's ward at Kamuzu Central Hospital, Lilongwe, Malawi. Credit: Eva-Lotta Jansson/Oxfam

WORLD: “Anti-Counterfeit Deal Threatens Accessibility of Drugs”

A proposed anti-counterfeit trade deal between 10 countries and the European Union (EU) could create "a new set of barriers to the export of generic medicines to low income countries".

HEALTH: “I Have Never Opposed Generics” – British Ex-Politician

Baroness Lynda Chalker, a former British government minister, has been at the forefront of the intellectual property rights crusade to pass laws against counterfeits in east Africa. These laws threaten the use of life-saving generics in countries that depend on such medicines for some 90 percent of their healthcare needs.

KENYA: Pharmaceutical Companies Pushing Anti-Counterfeit Law

Much of the initiative behind the adoption of Kenya’s controversial anti-counterfeit law came from multinational pharmaceutical companies using their membership of a local manufacturers’ association to push the legislation.

Health rights activists outside Kenya's Constitutional Court earlier this year. Credit:  Suleiman Mbatiah/IPS

EAST AFRICA: Global Players Behind Anti-Counterfeit Law Campaign

The international push behind Kenya’s controversial Anti-Counterfeit Act of 2008 dates back as far as October 2006 when the World Customs Organisation held its first intellectual property rights (IPRs) seminar in Kampala, the capital of neighbouring Uganda, focusing on East African governments’ enforcement of these rights.

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