[Ip-health] MSF: At EU-India Summit, India must defend its ‘pharmacy of the developing world’

Joanna Keenan joanna.l.keenan at gmail.com
Tue Mar 29 01:54:31 PDT 2016

*At EU-India Summit, India must defend its ‘pharmacy of the developing

*MSF urges Indian Prime Minister not to cave into pressure from EU to
accept trade deal that could harm access to medicines for millions of

*Brussels/Geneva/New Delhi, 29 March, 2016* – Ahead of tomorrow’s EU-India
Summit in Brussels, the international humanitarian medical organisation
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) urged Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to
keep his country’s ‘pharmacy of the developing world’ open and to resist
pressure from the European Union to accept harmful provisions in a trade
deal that would restrict access to affordable medicines for millions of

Prime Minister Modi and EU officials are expected to announce at the Summit
the resumption of negotiations in the nine-years-and-counting free trade
agreement talks between the two trading partners. Negotiations have mostly
stalled for nearly three years, but appear set to soon resume with many
contentious issues remaining on the negotiating table. They include those
surrounding intellectual property issues, which could have a serious
negative impact on access to medicines, including on the production and
export of affordable generic medicines from India.

“India is such a vital source of affordable, generic life-saving medicines
on which millions of people around the world rely, that any blow to the
pharmacy of the developing world would have disastrous consequences”, said
Dr Joanne Liu, International President of MSF. “As a medical treatment
provider to people in over 60 countries, MSF is incredibly reliant on
generic medicines from India to do our work; two thirds of all the drugs we
purchase to treat HIV, tuberculosis and malaria are Indian generics. The
reality is we wouldn’t be able to treat as many people if it weren’t for
affordable generic medicines from India.”

While intense pressure from groups of people living with HIV, hepatitis C
and cancer successfully managed to remove some of the worst provisions from
the negotiations over the years, a number of issues that would harm access
to medicines remain. They include the enforcement of intellectual property,
which – as proposed by the EU – could also see legitimate medicines being
blocked from leaving India on their way to people in developing countries
if a multinational company claims that their intellectual property is being
infringed upon, as well as third parties – such as treatment providers like
MSF – being embroiled in court cases simply for buying or using generic
medicines that are under a patent dispute. Should generic medicines not
make it to people on time, the health consequences for any delay or
interruption of treatment for many diseases could be serious.

“While the free trade negotiations have been on hold, the EU has moved to
raise the bar higher on enforcing intellectual property, by introducing
measures on goods in transit through the EU in its new rules on
trademarks”, said Helle Aagaard, EU Advocacy and Policy Advisor for MSF’s
Access Campaign. “MSF has repeatedly called for the removal of such
measures; we can’t afford to go back to a time where we kept seeing
seizures of generic medicines within the EU that were intended to provide
life-saving treatment for people in developing countries.”

MSF relies heavily on affordable Indian generics to conduct its medical
work. Over 97% of the antiretroviral medicines MSF purchases to treat
230,000 people for HIV, and three quarters of the anti TB medicines to
treat over 23,000 people for tuberculosis are sourced from Indian generic

“With the EU-India trade negotiations set to resume, there’s still so much
at stake for access to medicines”, said Leena Menghaney, South Asia
Regional Head of MSF’s Access Campaign. “This EU-India Summit is where
Prime Minister Modi needs to stand firm against Europe and tell them ‘no,
India is not going to shut down the pharmacy of the developing world – too
many lives are on the line’.”


*In 2015, MSF launched a campaign - handsoff.msf.org
<http://handsoff.msf.org> – to urge Indian Prime Minister to protect
India’s production of life-saving affordable generic medicines. *

Kind regards


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


More information about the Ip-health mailing list