[Ip-health] Hindustantimes: Medicines for all: Nina threatens anti-India drug cabal in America

Jamie Love james.love at keionline.org
Thu Feb 13 16:49:48 PST 2014


Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times
Washington, February 13, 2014
First Published: 19:44 IST(13/2/2014)
Last Updated: 19:50 IST(13/2/2014) Print

Medicines for all: Nina threatens anti-India drug cabal in America

Nina Mahmud can't bear to watch her husband grieve as his father battles
liver cancer. His last bottle of Nexavar, the only thing keeping him alive,
runs out on Saturday. "He is living bottle to bottle," Mahmud, 35, said,
fighting back tears. Of Egyptian descent, she was studying to be a nurse in
Florida when her father-in-law called.

The family was devastated; her own career plans died.

But there was hope: Mahmud could tell her story at US International Trade
Commission's hearing into India's patent regime, which began on Wednesday.

Nexavar, which was compulsorily licensed by India in 2013 to the collective
indignation of its maker and other multinationals, was the same drug that
doctors said could save her father-in-law.

The drug is at the core of the US case against India that the commission is
investigating at the urging of Congress - that India's disregard for IPR
harms US businesses.

Their main worry, however, is that if emerging countries such as Egypt
began following the Indian model, they won't be able to charge arbitrarily
fixed high prices.

India is not appearing before the commission, as a sovereignty issue, but
it is defended by Indian trade bodies and US activists supporting easy
access to medicines.

Mahmud wants to join them, and depose. If she is not allowed, she plans to
make a personal appeal for help to Bayer president Philip Blake, who
testifies on Thursday.

Bayer, a German drug major, is likely to argue that patent infringements
are bad for business, preventing research, which being typically expensive
makes drugs expensive.

In Egypt, where Mahmud's father-in-law Fathi Aboseada, 68, lives, two weeks
of Nexavar can cost $1,700 (R1.5 lakh). He makes about $300 a month, and he
is not poor.

The drug was so expensive in Indian once, only 200 of 15,000 patients
needing it could afford it, DG Shah of Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance told
the commission.

A month's dose cost $4,508 (Rs 2.8 lakh), too costly for most people. But
letting people die because they could not afford a medicine that could have
saved them was not an option.

Using a globally accepted trade tool called compulsory licensing, India
made Bayer license a local company to make Nexavar, which retailed for $141
(Rs 8,800) a month.

Shah told the commission Bayer's profits doubled as a result, contrary to
expectations and fears, which, however, continue to dominate the narrative,
without merit.

Mahmud wants to testify in India's support.

Every night, she, her husband Mohamed Aboseada and their two sons gather
around a computer to Skype with Fathi Aboseada - "we want him to live, he
is like my father..."

Mahmud has even considered flying to India to get her father-in-law's
monthly dosage on Nexavar as it would still be cheaper than what it costs
them at home in Egypt.

Fathi Aboseada was visiting his son at Fort Lauderdale, Florida around the
time Mahmud was expecting her second son. Late 2013, he began feeling

He was diagnosed with cancer by doctors in Egypt, who started him off on
Nexavar. His health improved shortly, but, no, he couldn't be taken off the
drug. It was his only lifeline.

Mahmud said she often joked with her husband about her dream to visit India
- and she still wants to. Now, however, it is about Nexavars for her ailing
father-in-law, and not the Taj.


James Love.  Knowledge Ecology International
http://www.keionline.org, KEI DC tel: +1.202.332.2670, US Mobile:
+1.202.361.3040, Geneva Mobile: +41.76.413.6584,   twitter.com/jamie_love

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