The Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZIMA) says the recent ruling in India permitting a local company to manufacture a generic copy of a patented cancer drug to make it affordable to the poor is a typical case study of the clash between intellectual property rights against the rights of patients to access affordable medication.
ZIMA Secretary General, Dr Douglas Gwatidzo said the issue of intellectual property rights remains the biggest challenge even as third world governments seek solutions to avail medical products at low cost.
The Indian government allowed a local company, Natco Pharma to make and sell a cancer drug, Nexavar, on the basis that it would be available to patients at a very affordable price.
The drug was being sold by Bayer of Germany who hold the patent at an estimated $5 698 for a monthly supply, while the decision to license a generic product will bring down its price to $178 for a monthly supply.
While the issue remains under the spotlight, governments in the developing world remain challenged on how they can fight strong multi-national corporations who put profits first before delivering affordable medical solutions.