[Ip-health] India under pressure from Europe to sign off on trade deal that will harm access to medicines: MSF, DNP+

Joanna Keenan-Siciliano joanna.l.keenan at gmail.com
Wed Mar 13 03:53:59 PDT 2013

*India** under pressure from Europe to sign off on trade deal that will
harm access to medicines*

*DNP+, MSF urge India to reject EU demands before April deadline, protest
at European Commission in Delhi*



* *

*New Delhi, 13 March* 2013 – Pressure is mounting on India to quickly sign
off on a free trade agreement which still contains provisions that will
harm people’s access to medicines in India and across the developing world,
the Delhi Network of Positive People (DNP+) and the international medical
humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders
(MSF) warned today. Representatives of the groups protested today outside
the European Commission India headquarters in Delhi, demanding the harmful
provisions be removed.

“The EU cannot claim it supports access to medicines and is concerned about
the lives of patients in developing countries, and in the same breath be
pushing harsh provisions around intellectual property enforcement on
India,” said Loon Gangte of DNP+. “What the EU wants in this trade deal
will pose a huge threat to future access to affordable generic medicines,
including the drugs I need for HIV.  We’re here to tell the EU that they
cannot push this deal through without a fight, and we’re here to tell India
not to cave in to the pressure.”

As the negotiations have progressed in recent months, certain provisions
damaging to access to medicines have been removed from the proposed deal,
including, for example, attempts to extend the duration of patents.
However, the intellectual property (IP) enforcement and investment
provisions are still seriously concerning, particularly as an early April
deadline to sign the agreement draws ever nearer.

Enforcement provisions could potentially block the export of generic
medicines from India – a lifeline for millions of people across the
developing world. By allowing medicines to be delayed, seized, detained and
destroyed, enforcement provisions would open the door to abusive practices
from multinational corporations. They could also draw in third parties,
including suppliers of active pharmaceutical ingredients used to produce
generic medicines and treatment providers like MSF, potentially embroiling
them in court cases simply for buying or distributing generic medicines.

Measures on investment could see the Indian government sued by
multinational companies for billions of dollars in private arbitration
panels if national laws, policies, court decisions or other actions are
perceived to interfere with their investments – for example, if an Indian
patent office rejects or overrides a patent on a medicine to increase

IP and investment measures are deemed concerning enough for an Indian
Parliamentary Standing Committee to have decided to examine the impact of
free trade agreements on access to medicines. Worryingly, Indian
negotiators may chose to concede, hastily conclude the talks and rush
signing the agreement – which will become binding and set a precedent for
future trade agreements – before the parliamentary review and
recommendations are concluded.

“India should not rashly sign this agreement before the parliament Standing
Committee on Commerce has the opportunity to examine the impact of trade
deals on access to medicines ”, said Leena Menghaney, Manager for MSF’s
Access Campaign in India. “MSF appeals to the Indian government – don’t
accept the provisions that will impact so many lives before you sign on the
dotted line.”

With India already obliged under international trade rules to start
granting patents on newer medicines – including newer medicines for HIV,
cancer and Hepatitis C – production and access to affordable medicines is
already becoming harder.

“We have to switch more and more people in our project in Mumbai to new HIV
drugs like raltegravir; but prices are too high at US$1,775 per person for
just one drug in the cocktail of three that people need”, said Menghaney.
“India should work to ensure the safe haven for production of affordable
generic medicines remains as secure as possible, and that means rejecting
harmful provisions in the trade deal.”

***Joanna Keenan
Press Officer
Médecins Sans Frontières - Access Campaign
P: +41 22 849 87 45
M: +41 79 203 13 02
E: joanna.keenan[at]geneva.msf.org
T: twitter.com/joanna_keenan


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