[Ip-health] News: PharmaBiz - 'Partnership for Safe Medicines' a farce: Health interest groups

Terri Beswick Terri at haieurope.org
Mon Dec 13 06:05:43 PST 2010

'Partnership for Safe Medicines' a farce: Health interest groups

Monday, December 13, 2010 08:00 IST 

Ramesh Shankar, Mumbai, Mumbai


A section of health interest groups in the country has cautioned the
consumer organisations and patient groups in India about the malafide
intentions of the newly formed 'Partnership for Safe Medicines' and has
urged them to distance themselves from it as the new organization is
neither about safety nor about medicines.


It is predominantly about the protection of corporate monopolistic
rights. "Therefore, we request all the public interest groups especially
consumer organisations and patient groups to distance itself from
'Partnership for Safe Medicines'. Engaging with such coalitions can
divert the much needed attention from other compelling issues such as
rational use of medicines, high drug prices and patenting of essential
medicines. Therefore it is grossly unsafe to partner with Partnership
for Safe Medicines", said a spokesman for the Centre for Trade and
Development (Centad).


This newly generated interest should be approached with a caution as
this entire drama is stage-managed by the big pharma, who blatantly
pursue policy level changes across the world that hinder access to
affordable medicines to millions of poor people. The Partnership for
Safe Medicines belongs to the band of above mentioned front
organisations, the spokesman cautioned. 


Exposing the intentions of the new organisation, the health groups said
that it is very clear that they represent the interests of the IP owners
rather than that of consumers. This pro-industry face is more visible
when one looks into the composition of board of directors. Two of the
five board of directors are pro-industry academicians, one belongs to
Pharmaceutical Security Institute (PSI), one is the global policy head
of Merck & Co and one is from PhRMA.


The Indian chapter has three partners---Cell for Consumer Education and
Advocacy (Bejon Mishra- executive director), Consumer Online Foundation
(Bejon Mishra--chairperson), Healthy You Foundation (Bejon Mishra--
founder trustee), and Indian Medical Association. Bejon Mishra appears
to be the connecting link between all the three partners. Therefore it
would not be incorrect to assume that the partnership in India has not
yet grown beyond Bejon Mishra and his associate organisations, the
health interest groups regretted.


The ambiguity created by the anti-counterfeiting debates in fact
entrapped many consumer organisations around the world. Without
understanding the intricacies of the anti-counterfeiting politics many
jumped into the coalitions such as Partnership for Safe Medicines. In
fact these sorts of coalitions could successfully camouflage the
corporate business interests in the issue of safety of medicines. One of
the problems with debates on counterfeits is that it has completely
sidelined the issues of rational use of medicines, and drug pricing. In
the midst of unethical business practices of pharmaceutical companies,
the issue of rational use of medicines should be brought back to
mainstream, the health groups said.


Indian drug industry, which is projected to be the Pharmacy of the
world, is under the threat of bigpharma. Of late, there have been many
deliberate attempts to wipe out Indian generic companies. The increasing
number of MNC take-over of Indian generic companies and proliferation of
TRIPS-plus policy instruments attest to this fact. The campaigns run by
Partnership for Safe Medicines also add more fuels to these attacks, the
health interest groups cautioned. 



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