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SA Parallel Import Bill Passes

  Subject: E-DRUG: South African Medicines Bill is passed
       Date: Wed, 22 Oct 1997 08:54:28 -0400 (EDT)
       From: "Candy Day" <candy@healthlink.org.za>
         To: e-drug@usa.healthnet.org
  E-drug:South African Medicines Bill is passed
  [Source: Electronic Mail & Guardian, Oct 22 1997
  http://www.mg.co.za/mg/    ]
  Drugs bill passes
  THE controversial bill allowing the government to override
  pharmaceutical companies' patent rights and import cheaper drugs, was
  passed yesterday. Trade and Industry Minister Alex Erwin intervened in
  the debate to accuse the drug companies of bluster, and said the issue
  was about the protection of detrimental pricing policies. The row has
  probably only just started -- the drug companies are saying they will
  take their patent rights to the Constitutional Court.
  Drugs bill goes through 
  WEDNESDAY, 8.30AM: DESPITE intense lobbying by international drug
  companies threatening to withdraw from SA, a controversial health bill
  that allows the government to "parallel" import cheaper drugs from
  abroad was passed yesterday. Health committee chairman Dr Abe Nkomo
  said a number of European countries allow parallel
  importing, but "it is only our minister of health who is lambasted by
  the giant pharmaceutical companies. If she was wrong, why are they
  silent on the other countries?" Trade and Industries Minister Alex
  Erwin stepped into the debate by revealing that he had held
  discussions with his US counterparts to resolve the issue. He said
  there was a difference in interpretation of a World Trade Organisation
  agreement on intellectual property, and while SA was attempting to
  introduce affordable health care, the US sought to protect its
  pharmaceuticals industry. Erwin said the Bill did not infringe patent
  rights, since it simply allowed for the cheaper imports of the same
  drug, from the same company, available more cheaply elsewhere. He
  accepted that the policy could be discriminatory, but "the excessive
  pricing of patented medicines is a primary concern." The ANC used its
  majority to pass the bill by 201 votes to 71, despite the opposition
  of all other parties. * Also passed yesterday was the equally
  controversial Medical, Dental and Supplementary Health Service
  Professions Amendment Bill, which provides for medical interns to
  serve one year of compulsory community service before they can become
  registered practitioners.
  Note from HealthLink
  You can download the bill, and view other commentary documents from
  the HealthLink page on Health Legislation and Policy at:
  OR      http://www.healthlink.org.za/    
          "Info Resources"
          "Health Legislation and Policy"
  Candy Day       
  Information Manager (HealthLink, Health Systems Trust)
  Tel: +27 31 3072954     http://www.healthlink.org.za
  Fax: +27 31 3040775     candy@healthlink.org.za 
  PO Box 808, Durban, 4000
  Wilbert Bannenberg, SADAP Coordinator
  Hallmark 938, P/Bag X 828, Pretoria 0001, South Africa
  Tel work +27-12-3120374/5  Fax +27-12-3244525 Cellphone +27-82-5756249
  Email 73377.3055@compuserve.com or bannew@hltrsa.pwv.gov.za
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