This morning, Act Up-Paris’ militants manifested in front of the Indian Embassy in Paris to protest the free trade agreement between India and the European Union. After unrolling a banner that said “FTA: death under patent” and chanting slogans such as “India, make war on AIDS, not on generics” a letter was submitted to the embassy. At the same time in Brussels, India was getting ready to give in to the wishes of the European Commission and the interests of its pharmaceutical industry.
Once the agreement is signed, the production of low-cost generic medications will be strongly hindered. Meanwhile, since the 2000s, India has become the “pharmacy of the developing countries.” In these poor countries, 92 percent of sick people who are undergoing treatment receive their medications from the Indian generics industry (Cipla, Rambaxi, Hetero etc.).
Throughout the negotiations between India and the European Union, the European Commission pleaded in favor of an increase in intellectual property standards (an extension of the duration of patents, data exclusivity) and in the means of implementation (the suppression of the presumption of innocence at customs, an increase in the number of seizures at borders, etc.).
The effects of India’s entrance into the World Trade Organization in 2005 have already been able to be measured; the production of generic versions of new molecules has been made more difficult.
Since 2000, the opening up of competition and the production of generics in India have made possible a major decrease in the price of top antiretroviral drugs. In spite of this considerable decrease, only a portion of HIV-positive individuals in the world have access to treatments today (among those who have been declared to have an urgent need). While it would be necessary to intensify the production of low-cost medications, India is, on the contrary, moving in reverse.
Act Up-Paris calls out to the political leaders of India. Pratibha Patil (President of the Indian National Congress), Manhoman Singh (Prime Minister), and Anand Sharma (Union Cabinet Minister for Commerce and Industry) must choose to take the side of the sick and abandon this agreement today.
Act Up-Paris requires:
India to choose to defend its sick; and
The European Commission to immediately renounce these negotiations, and to stop claiming its contribution to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to justify these unacceptable agreements that endanger the lives of millions.
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