[Ip-health] The Economic Times: India-EU agreement may restrict low-cost drugs

Joanna Keenan joanna.l.keenan at gmail.com
Tue Jun 28 02:35:43 PDT 2011

India-EU agreement may restrict low-cost drugs
khomba H, ET Bureau Jun 22, 2011, 08.42pm IST

NEW DELHI: Global health groups have urged the government to scrap certain
provisions in its ongoing trade discussions with European countries saying
there are other provisions to restrict access of low cost medicines even
after removing data exclusivity, one of the main contentious provisions.

Though both the EU and India have officially confirmed data exclusivity will
not be part of the free trade agreement (FTA) text, Europe should remove
other harmful clauses from the EU-India FTA negotiations, international
medical humanitarian organisation M?decins Sans Fronti?res (MSF) said. Data
exclusivity delays registration of generic versions of a medicine by up to
10 years, even for drugs that do not deserve a patent under India's law.
India is a key global supplier of low cost medicines and most global
suppliers of cheap drugs rely on Indian drugmakers

"Europe is still pushing provisions on the enforcement of intellectual
property (IP) that are of great concern for procurers and suppliers of
medicines, like MSF, as they put us at risk of litigation or court orders
that prevent us from delivering medicines to patients," said Michelle
Childs, director of Policy & Advocacy of MSF's Access Campaign.

By allowing patent holders to target all persons involved in the production,
manufacture and delivery of medicines suspected of infringing an IP right,
these provisions could draw in treatment providers like MSF into legal
proceedings and increase the risk of medicines being seized at Indian

Another area of concern is the investment chapter of the FTA which includes
measures to protect the commercial interests of foreign companies investing
in India. This will allow pharmaceutical companies to bypass Indian courts
and sue the Indian government in secret international arbitration panels
that do not balance public health against private profit.

"Europe is also pushing policies that will limit access to low-cost versions
of the newer drugs that people need to stay alive. This is unacceptable. The
EU must drop the remaining clauses that are harmful to public health,"
Childs said.

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