[Ip-health] MSF PR: Indian Prime Minister Must Resist European Pressure to Trade Away Health

James Love james.love at keionline.org
Wed Jan 12 08:34:09 PST 2011

-------- Forwarded Message --------
From: Alexandra.LEE at geneva.msf.org


Indian Prime Minister Must Resist European Pressure to Trade Away Health
Latest round of negotiations on sensitive intellectual property issues
resumes tomorrow

New Delhi, 12th January 2011 – India should resist pressure from the
European Union to accept, as part of a free trade agreement, harmful
provisions that will have a major negative impact on access to affordable
medicines, the international medical humanitarian organisation Médecins
Sans Frontières (MSF) said today.  As discussions on the sensitive
intellectual property chapter in the free trade agreement resume, reports
now indicate the Indian Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) may be ready to
concede to European demands, imposing severe limitations on the ability of
Indian generic manufacturers to produce affordable medicines.

“We urge the Indian Prime Minister to stand strong against Europe and
defend India’s role as pharmacy of the developing world,” said Dr. Unni
Karunakara, MSF International President.

MSF relies on affordable medicines produced in India to treat more than
160,000 people living with HIV/AIDS across the developing world.  India is
also the source of 80% of the AIDS medicines purchased by donors like the
Global Fund. But in a leaked draft of the trade deal, the Europeans are
pushing several provisions that would limit competition from generic

“The Indian negotiating position has been committed to systematically
opposing Europe’s attempts to impose greater restrictions on generic
medicines production than required under international trade rules,” said
Leena Menghaney, of MSF’s Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines. “But
latest reports now suggest the Prime Minister is ready to reconsider in
order to conclude the agreement fast.  We appeal to the Indian Prime
Minister to resist the EU’s demands.”

Generic medicines from India have played a critical role in scaling up AIDS
treatment across the developing world because until 2005, the country did
not grant patents on medicines.  This allowed manufacturers to produce more
affordable drugs, pushing their price down by more than 99% over the past
decade.  But World Trade Organization rules obligated India to start
granting medicines patents in 2005.  This is having a negative impact on
access to affordable versions of the newer generation of HIV/AIDS drugs,
some of which have already been patented in India.

Now the policies the EU are pushing would restrict the production of
affordable medicines even further.   In particular the EU is seeking to
impose ‘data exclusivity’ which would act like a patent and block the
marketing of generic medicines for up to ten years.  Alarmingly, data
exclusivity would apply even for products that didn’t deserve a patent in
the first place under India’s law. Acting as a way to secure monopolies
through the backdoor, it would block the development of new fixed-dose
combinations, where several medicines are combined into one pill, even
though these cannot be patented in India.

“The European Trade Commissioner has confirmed to us that he continues to
ask India for data exclusivity,” said Dr. Karunakara. “We ask India to
reject data exclusivity and any other aspect of the European trade agenda
that exceeds what is required under international trade rules and threatens
the lifeline of affordable medicines for the developing world.”
Alexandra Lee
Webmaster/Online Content Editor
Médecins Sans Frontières- Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines
+41 22 849 89 88 (Direct Line)


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