March 23, 2012
"To break free of its dependence on donor money and supplies from India, Africa must develop its own pharmaceutical pipeline by creating policy frameworks that encourage a fledgling drug industry," journalist Priya Shetty argues in this SciDev.Net opinion piece. "Although India's drug industry continues to churn out generics against killer diseases such as HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, there is no end to resistance from global pharmaceutical companies wanting to extend the duration of market exclusivity on their brand-name drugs to prevent competition from generics," she writes, and notes, "The Council on Health Research for Development (COHRED) forum, to be held in South Africa in April 2012, will discuss how resource-poor nations can become more self-sufficient."
"There's another reason why African countries should experiment with developing a drugs industry -- the least-developed nations have until 2016 before they are bound by the international agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement), which dictates patent protection for new drugs," she continues. "Africa will not bolster its pharmaceutical capacity without considerable incentive -- by subsidizing land to build manufacturing plants, for example, or reducing import taxes on chemicals -- from national governments, and perhaps from donors in the short term," she writes, concluding, "It will require extraordinary collaboration between industry and government agencies. But if it works, it will produce the most important set of public-private partnerships yet" (3/22).
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