Biopiracy: People of Alice win first round

In A David versus Goliath battle, the small rural community of Alice have won the first leg of their court case against German homeopathic giant Schwabe Pharmaceuticals.  The Eastern Cape community accused Schwabe of “stealing indigenous knowledge” in a case which stretches back to 2007.

The pharmaceutical company attempted to patent a remedy made from the roots of indigenous African plants pelargonium sidoides and pelargonium reniforme, more commonly known as geranium, to make cough syrup and reap the rewards.  But last week a German court ruled that the company should cease using the plant.

Umckaloabo, marketed as a unique African natural remedy, is the 20th most sought-after medicine in Germany.

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