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Participate in Fixing Patent Laws – How Easily Did You Access Cancer Drugs?

Patent LawHelp make medicines affordable in South Africa!

Participate in a five-minute survey about your experiences accessing medicine. (Survey at bottom of post).

The Problem

Patent Monopolies Restrict Access to Affordable Generics

Did you know that one of the reasons medicines can be expensive is because of patent monopolies? Patents restrict access to affordable and effective generics.

South Africa gives out nearly 3,000 pharmaceutical patents each year, far more than many other developing countries. The high number of patents is in large part because the country doesn’t examine patent applications, and allows multiple patents on a single drug.

The result is high medicine prices and restricted access to affordable and effective generics for everyone-including you.  View MSF video:

World Cancer Day 2016 Appeal for Awareness re Fixing the Patent Laws

Problematic patent laws block access to critical breast cancer medicine.

Leading up to World Cancer Day (4 February 2016), the Fix the Patent Laws Coalition released a short video highlighting how shortcomings in South Africa’s patent laws contribute to barriers to access for critical breast cancer medicine trastuzumab.

The video includes powerful testimonies from three South African HER2 breast cancer patients – among them actress and breast cancer advocate, Lillian Dube, who has lent her support to Fix the Patent Laws. View here…

The Solution

CANSA Joins Leading Organisations in Fight for Affordable Medicine

2 June 2015 – CANSA is playing an active part in the process of influencing and amending the Patent law, that will result in more affordable medication for cancer patients.

The aim of the ‘Fix The Patent Law Campaign’ is to address the lack of access to medication to cancer patients due to very high costs, eg: Herceptin for HER2 positive breast cancer and Temozolomide for brain tumours.

CANSA, as a partner in the coalition of NGOs is calling on government to urgently finalise the National Policy on Intellectual Property.

The amendments we are calling for are in line with current international law. If South Africa amends its laws, in line with the recommendations of the Fix the Patent Laws Campaign, fewer patents will be granted – which will allow for competition between suppliers to offer lower prices, and improve access to affordable medicines.

“For patients, caregivers and their loved ones, going through cancer can be a devastating experience,” explained Magdalene Seguin (CANSA). “CANSA is contacted on a regular basis by patients who don’t have access to medication due to the high cost. CANSA supports that patent legislation in South Africa be amended urgently to ensure access to new affordable and life-saving cancer medications.” Read full press release (2 June 2015)

Patented Cancer Drugs Very Expensive Compared to International Generics

Many cancer drugs are patented, and therefore very expensive, in South Africa, but are available generically internationally. Take Gleevec (imatinib) which treats multiple cancers but most notably leukemia: it’s several times more expensive in South Africa than internationally.

Supporting Documents:

What Can YOU Do to Help?

South Africa’s government CAN do something to change this:

Stand Strong


Doctors Without Borders (MSF), in partnership with the Treatment Action Campaign and SECTION27, the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) and many other NGO’s calls on the government to Fix the Patent Laws by adopting policies that enable affordable medicines.

Now, the campaign wants to hear from you!

  • Through this five-minute survey, ‘Fix the Patent Laws’ asks patients who use the public and / or private sector to tell us about your experiences getting – or not getting – the medicine you need.
  • Your participation will help us to identify medicines that are out of reach because they are patented and unaffordable, and ultimately assist in promoting pro-public health policies in South Africa.

Complete 5 Minute Survey

You’ll see that respondents can choose to leave their contact information or not – we will absolutely respect anonymity if required.


For more information on Fix the Patent Laws, visit – You can also follow them on Twitter @FixPatentLaw

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