Sameera Casmod | email@example.com
28 November 2023 | 11:39am CAT
Pretoria High Court admits Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) as Friends of the Court in a compulsory license application.
The Pretoria High Court has admitted the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and Doctors Without Borders (MSF), both represented by Section 27, as friends of the court in a compulsory license application. The case revolves around access to the life-saving drug Trikafta, designed to treat cystic fibrosis.
Cystic fibrosis, a debilitating condition causing mucus buildup in the lungs and other complications, has traditionally been treated for its symptoms. Trikafta, however, addresses the underlying issues, proving to be a transformative treatment for those afflicted with the condition. Sasha Stevenson from Section 27 describes it as a “miracle drug” with the potential to dramatically improve the lives of cystic fibrosis patients.
The legal battle stems from the unavailability and exorbitant pricing of Trikafta in South Africa. Priced at over R5 million per year for individuals requiring lifelong treatment, the drug remains financially out of reach for many. The company holding the patent for Trikafta has not made the drug available in the country, creating a situation where even generic alternatives cannot be introduced due to patent restrictions.
A woman living with cystic fibrosis, has filed a compulsory license application, seeking court intervention to compel the pharmaceutical company to allow the production of a generic version of Trikafta. Joined by the Cystic Fibrosis Association of South Africa, this application has broader implications for the accessibility of essential medicines.
TAC and MSF’s involvement as friends of the court aims to emphasise the significance of access to medicines, drawing on their extensive experience in advocating for such rights since the late 90s and early 2000s, particularly during challenges in obtaining antiretroviral drugs for HIV treatment.
Described as a David versus Goliath scenario, the case underscores the tension between an individual’s right to access life-saving medication and a multinational pharmaceutical company’s pursuit of profits through patenting. The legal precedent sought in this case could have far-reaching implications for future disputes concerning access to medicines.
As the legal battle unfolds, stakeholders and activists are keenly watching, hoping for a landmark decision that could set a precedent for more equitable access to crucial medications. The outcome may not only impact those affected by cystic fibrosis in South Africa but also pave the way for addressing broader questions of accessibility to essential drugs globally.
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