[Ip-health] Reuters: "Freer trade may hurt access to India generic drugs"

thiru at keionline.org thiru at keionline.org
Fri Sep 17 02:09:10 PDT 2010

UNITAID says 80 percent of its AIDS drugs come from India

* Tougher intellectual property rules may harm trade

By Laura MacInnis

GENEVA, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Freer trade could harm India's generic drug
business, which supplies the bulk of the AIDS medicines sent to developing
countries, a study backed by the drug-purchasing body UNITAID said on

The report, written by a UNITAID official along with experts from Boston
University and Harvard, warns that India's generics could cost more and be
harder to access if the country has to adhere to stricter intellectual
property rules.

It said trade deals India already signed up to, such as the World Trade
Organisation intellectual property accord known as TRIPS, have already
begun to complicate efforts to get cheap, life-saving drugs to poorer

"The introduction of product patents in India is severely constraining
generic competition and supply, particularly for newer medicines," the
report found.

"Many free trade agreements that have been concluded or are being
negotiated between industrialized and developing countries contain
measures that restrict access to medicines."

The study, published in the Journal of the International AIDS Society,
said trade talks between India and the European Union include measures
that could delay or restrict competition from generic medicines by
extending patent terms, requiring data exclusivity and tightening border
enforcement rules.

Such moves could drive up prices for India's anti-retroviral treatments,
limit dosage options and delay access to newer and better drugs, the
report argued.

"Such measures can undermine the international goal to achieve universal
access to HIV/AIDS interventions."

Set up in 2006 by Brazil, Chile, France, Norway and Britain, UNITAID uses
proceeds from airfare taxes and donations to fund HIV/AIDS, malaria and
tuberculosis treatment in poor countries.

Jorge Bermudez, UNITAID's executive secretary, said that 80 percent of the
AIDS drugs the group now distributes come from Indian generics

"The findings of this study raise grave concerns for us," he said in a
statement. "What we need today is a more flexible approach to scale up
treatment and not the opposite."

India's generic drug manufacturers include Cipla Ltd (CIPL.BO), Aurobindo
Pharma Ltd (ARBN.BO), Strides Arcolab Ltd (STAR.BO), Dr Reddys
Laboratories (REDY.BO) and Ranbaxy Laboratories (RANB.BO). (Editing by
Stephanie Nebehay and Mark Heinrich)

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