[Ip-health] MSF urges Prime Minister Modi to resist US political pressure to restrict global access to medicines

Joanna Keenan-Siciliano joanna.l.keenan at gmail.com
Fri Sep 26 03:27:14 PDT 2014


Ahead of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's first official visit to the
United States, starting later today, international medical humanitarian
organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has urged Prime Minister Modi
to withstand increasing pressure from the US for India to adopt tougher
intellectual property provisions.

MSF has issued the below press release in response to Prime Minister Modi's
visit:

http://www.msfaccess.org/about-us/media-room/press-releases/msf-urges-prime-minister-modi-resist-us-political-pressure

MSF urges Prime Minister Modi to resist US political pressure to restrict
global access to medicines

September 26, 2014, Delhi/New York – As Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi
makes his first official visit to the United States, Médecins Sans
Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is urging the Indian government to
resist U.S. pressure to drop the use of public health safeguards in its
intellectual property laws, which have enabled India to become the
‘pharmacy of the developing world.’ India supplies affordable generic
medicines to people and governments worldwide, including to MSF’s medical
humanitarian projects, which are present in more than 60 countries.

“India’s production of affordable medicines is a vital life-line for MSF’s
medical humanitarian operations and millions of people in developing
countries. India’s patent laws and policies have fostered robust generic
competition over the past decade, which has brought the price of medicines
down substantially – in the case of HIV, by more than 90 per cent”, said
Rohit Malpani, Director of Policy and Analysis for MSF’s Access Campaign.
“The world can’t afford to see India’s pharmacy shut down by U.S.
commercial interests.”

The U.S., on behalf of its pharmaceutical industry, has recently stepped up
pressure on India, with the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC)
initiating a fact-finding investigation this year on India’s intellectual
property regime, which is seen to be undermining the interests of U.S.
companies. In addition, the US Trade Representative (USTR) once again
placed India on the Priority Watch List in its Special 301 Report and
announced an out–of-cycle review of India’s intellectual property regime,
which signals the threat of sanctions against India.

One key target of US pressure is India’s patent law which makes it tougher
to get secondary patents on existing medicines, which in turn facilitates
the introduction of generic competition. Another point of contention is the
use of compulsory licences, a legal measure, used once by India so far,
that jumpstarts generic production when patented life-saving medicines are
priced out of the reach of patients.

India’s laws were changed in 2005 to comply with the World Trade
Organization’s mandate for pharmaceutical patenting, and remain in line
with international trade and intellectual property rules.  Today India’s
laws and policies are closely watched by its BRICS peers and other
developing countries. South Africa and Brazil are looking to reform their
laws to limit abuse of the patent system; for example, by allowing
pre-grant oppositions and limiting the granting of secondary patents.

The USTR has already held several high level meetings with the Indian
government around its intellectual property policies, and it is expected
that Mr Modi’s will intensify dialogue on India’s approach to
pharmaceutical patents and use of public health safeguards.  MSF urges
Prime Minister Modi to continue India’s leadership in global health, and
stand firm in protecting public health in the face of mounting US pressure.

- ends -


Joanna Keenan
Press Officer
Médecins Sans Frontières - Access Campaign
P: +41 22 849 87 45
M: +41 79 203 13 02
E: joanna.keenan[at]geneva.msf.org
T: @joanna_keenan

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