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African leaders and India should work together to protect access to affordable generic medicines: MSF

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Also urges African leaders and India to work together to combat efforts to undermine the ‘pharmacy of the developing world’

As African leaders met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi for an African Union-India meeting this week, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) urged African governments and India to work together to maintain trade in affordable generic medicines that is a lifeline for millions of people in India, Africa and other developing countries.

Leena Menghaney, Head-South Asia, MSF Access Campaign, “In 2005 when India needed to amend its patent laws, the government made the conscious decision to protect people over profits and implemented some key pro-public health provisions. India’s policies have allowed for the production of affordable generic medicines which many millions of people across the developing world, including Africa, rely on.”

The Indian Prime Minister must consider the need to combat growing epidemics such as drug-resistant tuberculosis, where treatment for just one patient can cost several thousand dollars”, said Menghaney. “The cost of newer drugs to treat multi drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) could be cut by up to 95 per cent if generic versions could be produced in India the same way as HIV drugs. India needs to continue its production and supply of lower-cost generics, which are essential for public health.”

We were able to scale up HIV treatment in our programmes because Indian generic medicines made treatment more affordable,” said Dr Gilles Van Cutsem, Medical Coordinator for MSF, South Africa. “We shudder at the threats that the India faces from the US government, other developed countries, and multinational drug companies. Any shift in India’s policy would dramatically undermine access to affordable medicines that we need in India, across Africa and beyond.”

MSF is urging African leaders and India to work together to combat efforts to undermine the ‘pharmacy of the developing world’.

African leaders really should see this summit as an opportunity to work together with Prime Minister Modi to protect affordable access for people across the developing world”, said Van Cutsem. “They need to remember that millions of people in Africa are alive today because of affordable medicines made in India.”

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