Modi under pressure from US: global experts

According to the experts, the US has persistently pressured India to adopt US-style patent protections on pharmaceuticals for many years.

Global leaders on AIDS, Thursday, accused Modi government of succumbing to the pressure from United States (US) and multinational pharmaceutical industry for changing country’s patent law and policies.

With signals from India government of bowing to the US, civil society members urged the Indian government to resist pressure to ensure that Indian generic companies are not taken over by the multinational pharmaceutical companies.

Calling on the Indian government to reverse the course in a series of actions that threaten to undermine the global AIDS response, global leaders on AIDS and human rights raised an alarm about the “conspiracy” at work between the government of US and India. They marched in heavy numbers to deliver the message to the Indian consulate from the International Convention centre(ICC)-the venue for the 21st International AIDS conference in Durban on Thursday morning.

As the supplier of more than 80% of generic AIDS drugs used in low and middle income countries, changes to India’s policies on affordable medicines-experts say-could have dire consequences for people living with HIV worldwide.

According to the experts, the US has persistently pressured India to adopt US-style patent protections on pharmaceuticals for many years. The pressure however has intensified recently on India to change its pro-health policies that allow generic drug production.

The move to allow unlimited foreign investment in Indian drug companies will mean that big pharmaceuticals could buy smaller firms in India to eliminate the competition in India that sustains affordable prices.

Experts feel that India’s ongoing free trade agreement negotiations with the EU, EFTA and RCEP pose a serious threat to generic production from India.

The earlier government had made some significant reversals. But it seems that Modi government is under pressure from US. They must stand to the pressure of US government, if Mr Modi decides to change it, most new drugs will be patented, meaning higher prices, less affordability and low coverage,” said Mark Heywood, Executive Director, section 27.

Significantly, experts say if the changes are made, prices will shoot immensely and new HIV medicines will go out of reach of the poor.

India is under massive pressure to turn off its tap of affordable medicines, which are a lifeline to millions of people not only in India, but across the developing world. If India doesn’t stand strong against the pharmaceutical corporations and governments that are pushing for change in the country’s patent law and policies, people around the world will face a crisis in access to medicines in the future,” said Leena Menghaney, South Asia Head of MSF’s Access Campaign.

Back home, civil society members are planning to approach the court. “People are fearing to speak to reverse the trend. We are thinking to go to court to bring up the matter to fore,” said Meena Seshu, Women’s right advocate added.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
Next Story