To establish a portfolio of investments, BioVentures, South Africa's first niche biotechnology and life sciences venture capital fund, looked for South African start-ups with proprietary technology that gives them a competitive advantage; a large, growing and preferably international market; multiple products and markets rather than a single product and market; and a quality and balanced management team. This article considers these points in more detail to create a checklist for divestiture preparation or asset hunting.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi recently implemented various changes to Schedules 4, 6 and 7 of the Medicines Act in relation to cannabis and its related components. Although amendments to the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act remain to be seen, the recent changes to the Medicines Act are a step in the right direction and a significant contribution to the rights of adults to cultivate, possess and use cannabis in private.
On the recommendation of the South African Health Products Authority, the minister of health recently issued Government Gazette 43346, which essentially exempts, under Section 36(1) of the Medicines and Related Substances Act, the free supply of medicines, medical devices and in vitro diagnostics to the state for three years. This exemption also extends to the supply of samples to the state as part of a tender published by the state.
The European Patent Office Enlarged Board of Appeal may have ended the debate on the patentability of plants and animals which are exclusively obtained by essentially biological processes by ruling that these are not patentable. If South Africa follows the board's interpretation, where essentially biological processes such as natural breeding techniques have been used to produce a plant or animal product, such a plant or animal product (and the process for producing the plant or animal) will not be patentable.
There have been a number of key developments in South African life sciences law relating to cannabis in recent years, including amendments to the Medicines and Related Substances Act 1965, such that products which contain only cannabidiol – when intended for therapeutic purposes – can now be obtained from a pharmacist by prescription. Further, cannabis-related trademark applications will now be accepted on the condition that the products comply with the standards set by the health minister.