MSF urges India to stand strong against attack on affordable medicines

Many governments and treatment providers rely on affordable quality generic medicines from India to treat life-threatening diseases

As US Trade Representative Michael Froman meets high-ranking Indian officials to likely pressure the government to weaken its pro-public health patent law, Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) urged the new Indian Prime Minister to take a strong stand against weakening a law that has helped millions of people in India and across the developing world get access to affordable life-saving medicines.

“We rely on affordable medicines produced in India, which is called the ‘pharmacy of the developing world,’ so we are very worried the US Trade Representative is here in Delhi to try to shut it down,” said Leena Menghaney, South Asia Manager for MSF’s Access Campaign. “We have been watching closely in recent months as the US Trade Representative’s office and pharmaceutical industry officials meet steadily and intensively to try and pressure India to change its patent law to one that puts corporate profits over people’s health. The new Prime Minister is in a unique position of responsibility in global health and we urge him to stand strong against US pressure so that India can continue to provide affordable medicines to millions of people in India and beyond.”

India’s patent law has allowed robust competition among generics producers to drive medicines prices down, leading to, for example, a 99 per cent reduction in the price of HIV medicines, from more than $10,000 per person per year in 2000 to roughly $100 today. Access to affordable HIV medicines from India has been instrumental in the historic scale-up of HIV treatment to more than 13 million people in developing countries today, including nearly one million in India. Many governments and treatment providers, such as MSF, rely on affordable quality generic medicines from India to treat life-threatening diseases.

“India has been a global leader in ensuring access to medicines in developing countries, so the world will be watching closely to see whether the country will cave under US pressure or not,” said Rohit Malpani, Director of Policy and Analysis, MSF’s Access Campaign. “Several of India’s BRICS peers like Brazil and South Africa are looking to India’s law for inspiration as they try to reform their own patent laws to limit abuse of the patent system in the interest of access to medicines.”

EP News Bureau- Mumbai

Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans FrontièresIndiaLeena MenghaneyMichael FromanRohit Malpani
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