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Sunday, 22 April, 2001, 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK
Kenya readies Aids drugs law
Activists cheer outside a South African court after drugs companies drop their suit on 19 April
The Kenyan move follows the end of a legal battle in South Africa
Kenya has drafted a bill to legalise the import of cheap generic HIV/Aids drugs, the government says.

Health Minister Professor Sam Ongeri said brand-name drugs protected by "unrealistic" laws are "unaffordable".


The outcome of the case sends a clear signal to the African heads of state that lives should and can take precedence over patents

Joint charities statement
He said the law would not violate patent-protection provisions of the World Trade Organisation, of which Kenya is a member.

Professor Ongeri's announcement comes only days after a group of pharmaceutical companies dropped a lawsuit to prevent South Africa from importing generic Aids drugs.

Thirty-nine drugs companies that were contesting the South African law unconditionally dropped their case on Wednesday.

Hundreds of deaths daily

Professor Ongeri said that 700 Kenyans died of Aids each day, and that 2.2 million people in the country were infected with HIV, the virus that causes Aids.

Aids patient
Africa has an estimated 26 million HIV carriers
He said up to 50% of hospital beds in the country are occupied by Aids patients.

The drugs companies had taken the South African Government to court in an attempt to block legislation which gives it powers to import or manufacture cheap versions of brand-name drugs.

The World Health Organisation and the International Aids Society, which represents specialist Aids doctors and researchers, welcomed the legal settlement.

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See also:

19 Apr 01 | Africa
Joy at SA Aids drugs victory
19 Apr 01 | Africa
Cheaper drugs a long way off
19 Apr 01 | Africa
Head-to-head: Aids drugs
19 Apr 01 | Health
SA Aids case: The repercussions
19 Apr 01 | Health
Aids epidemic 'underestimated'
15 Mar 01 | Africa
Analysis: Aids drugs and the law
21 Feb 01 | Business
Glaxo offers cheaper Aids drugs
24 Oct 00 | Aids
Aids drugs factfile
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