From: "Leena Menghaney" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Fri, 12 Mar 2010 17:36:11 +0100
Organization: MSF OCA
Subject: [Ip-health] PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS: INDIA MUST NOT SACRIFICE US
IN TRADE AGREEMENT WITH EUROPE
PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS:
INDIA MUST NOT SACRIFICE US IN TRADE AGREEMENT WITH EUROPE
Friday 12 March 2010, New Delhi As the final round of closed-door
negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between India and the European
Union (EU) is about to start this month, people living with HIV/AIDS are
protesting to ensure Indian negotiators do not give in to pressure to accept
terms that will seriously hamper access to medicines for millions of people
living in the developing world.
"We are marching to call on the Indian government not to trade away our
lives," said Loon Gangte, president of the Delhi Network of Positive People
(DNP+). "Lifelong treatment for people living with HIV depends on continued
access to newer AIDS medicines. Because of international trade rules that
India has already signed in the past, some of our newer AIDS medicines are
already patented and this makes them completely unaffordable. We want to
know on behalf of whom is our government negotiating?"
In 2005, in order to comply with the international trade rules, India was
obliged to grant patents on medicines, but the country also introduced
measures to protect public health and limit abusive patenting. But a
bilateral trade agreement with the EU now threatens to counteract these
safeguards and set higher standards of intellectual property protection,
extending the market monopoly of pharmaceutical companies and enabling them
to maintain prohibitively high prices on medicines.
"As the source of 92 percent of the AIDS medicines used in developing
countries today, India is the pharmacy of the developing world. So the
impact of this also stretches far beyond India," said Médecins Sans
Frontières Campaigner Leena Menghaney. "In recent free trade agreements
signed with the EU or the US, developing countries agreed to introduce very
strict intellectual property rules that drastically restrict ability to
produce or trade in affordable generic medicines. If India also gives in,
access to treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS and other patients will
have been sacrificed in the negotiation process."
Europe is pushing for specific measures like data exclusivity, which delays
the registration of generic medicines, and an extension of the patent term
beyond 20 years, which are unnecessary under international rules. In
addition, after multiple incidents of seizing Indian generic medicines in
transit to other developing countries in Latin America, and Africa, the EU
is now seeking to legitimise such measures by forcing India to adopt them in
"This FTA is the latest step in a long attack by the US and the EU to shut
down India's generic industry," said Dr. Amit Sen Gupta, of Jan Swasthya
Abhiyan. "Previously the US and EU strategy was to force India, the biggest
source of generic medicines, to grant patents on medicines. India agreed to
do this when it signed up to the TRIPS Agreement and this has had a serious
impact on the accessibility of newer medicines. Now with this FTA the EU is
trying to force India to adopt ever-higher standards of intellectual
property. India has both a moral duty and a legal right to say no."
Neither the Indian Parliament nor affected communities including people
living with HIV have been given the opportunity to be heard on the progress
of the negotiations.
"Before the negotiations are concluded, there is an urgent need that
Parliament has an opportunity to debate and review critically the terms of
the free trade agreement," said Venkatesh Nayak, working committee member of
the National Campaign for People's Right to Information.
Informal talks between European and Indian negotiators are reportedly
opening in New Delhi this week, before formal talks take place in Brussels
in April. The EU says it wants to conclude the FTA negotiations ahead of the
EU-India summit scheduled for October 2010.
Campaign Co-ordinator (India)
Medecins Sans Frontieres
Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines
Tel: +91 11 46573731, +91 11 46573730