The High Court of Kenya today made a landmark decision on an anti-counterfeit law that ensure access to life-saving drugs in Kenya.
The anti-counterfeit law will safeguard access to affordable generic medicines as well.
UNAIDS’ Executive Director, Michel Sidibe said that a vast majority of people in Kenya rely on quality generic drugs for their daily survival.
He says through the important ruling, the High Court of Kenya has upheld a fundamental element of the right to health.
“This decision will set an important precedent for ensuring access to life-saving drugs around the world.” – Mr. Sidibe
According to UNAIDS, the High Court found that the definition of ‘anti-counterfeit’ within the 2008 Anti-Counterfeit Act was too broad, with the judge involved explaining in her ruling that “the Act is vague and could undermine access to affordable generic medicines since the Act had failed to clearly distinguish between counterfeit and generic medicines.”
The High Court called on Kenya’s Parliament to review the Act and remove ambiguities that could result in arbitrary seizures of generic medicines under the pretext of fighting counterfeit drugs.
The judgment also stated that intellectual property rights should not override the right to life and health.
“We must have both generic drugs and strong anti-counterfeit laws.” -Mr Sidibe
He says generic drugs give more people access to life-saving treatment, while anti-counterfeit laws keep people safe.
UN says Kenya’s national HIV treatment programme relies heavily on access to generic antiretroviral medicines.
At the end of 2011, about 1.6 million people in Kenya were living with HIV. An estimated 743,000 Kenyans are eligible for antiretroviral treatment, of whom 539,000 are currently receiving it.
Globally, around 16 million people are affected by injecting drug use, and of that total, some three million live with HIV. Injecting drug use is a major cause of HIV transmission, accounting for up to ten per cent of all HIV cases worldwide. In some countries of Eastern and Southern Africa, injecting drug use is an emerging problem and represents an important source of HIV transmission. Other forms of drug use are not direct sources of HIV infection, but make individuals more vulnerable to risk behaviour that enhances their susceptibility to HIV infection. In addition, severe socio-economic living-conditions aggravate vulnerability of being exposed to contaminated injecting equipment.