Kenya: High Court ruling on anti-counterfeit law upholds right to health

April 26, 2012

Kenyan HIV activists say a recent ruling by the High Court will save millions of lives and protect the right to life of citizens.

The High Court recently ruled that the definition of ‘anti-counterfeit’ in the 2008 Anti-Counterfeit Act is too broad. The case filed by three people living with HIV in July 2009 argued that sections 2, 32 and 34 of the Act contained ambiguities, which, if misinterpreted or abused, would be detrimental to Kenyans’ access to essential generic medicines. Counterfeit drugs are drugs that have been illegally imitated.

High Court Judge Mumbi Ngugi found that the Act failed to clearly distinguish between counterfeit and generic medicines. She called on parliament to review these ambiguities that could result in the arbitrary seizure of generic medicines under the pretext of fighting counterfeit drugs.

Like many low- and middle-income countries, more than 80 percent of the drugs used by Kenyans are generic and largely manufactured in India. The judgement also ensures that government agencies cannot interfere with the importation and distribution of generic medicines. “The right to life, dignity and health of people like the petitioners, who are infected with the HIV virus, cannot be secured by a vague proviso in a situation where those charged with the responsibility of enforcement of the law may not have a clear understanding of the difference between generic and counterfeit medicine,” Mrs Ngugi said in her judgement.

Source: PlusNews, 25 April 2012