The U.S. Must Stop Blocking India's Medicine From Saving the World

India is once again under intense pressure from U.S. lawmakers for its legal and governmental actions to increase access to affordable generic medicines and limit abusive patenting practices, global humanitarian agency Medicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders) stated the night before a meeting between President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

India produces almost 40% of generic drugs and over-the-counter products. It is the biggest foreign supplier of medicine to the U.S., and is a critical producer of affordable medicine for the world. India's generic industry, however, has cut into profits for Pfizer and other U.S. drug companies.

Eager to grab their piece of the pie, U.S. pharmaceutical companies continue to unfairly attack India through U.S. government officials. They are seeking to impose aggressive patenting and intellectual property standards on medicine, measures that would grant these firms monopoly pricing power over new drugs and lock out generic producers. "Every country has the right to take steps to increase access to medicines and implement a patent system in line with its public health needs," said Leena Menghaney, manager of MSF's Access Campaign in India. "Even though India is acting completely within its rights, the country must now deal with unrelenting, unwarranted, and deliberately misleading attacks from the multinational pharmaceutical industry and U.S. government officials."

In June, a bipartisan group of 170 lawmakers wrote a letter to President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry raising objections to India's patent system. Indian patent laws do not consider new forms of a known substance to be innovative unless they improve efficacy and have, as a result, stirred much controversy rejecting various high-profile patents.

Despite pressure from multinational companies, India's Supreme Court rejected a patent on a Novartis leukemia drug called Gleevec in January on the grounds that the delivery format did not constitute a legitimate innovation. Protected by multiple U.S. patents, Gleevec costs more than $75,000 a year domestically. While Novartis charges about $31,000 a year in India, the generic version legalized by India's highest court costs around $2,100, which is a more reasonable amount for a country where the annual capital income is about $1,400.

Known as "pharmacy of the developing world," India's generic drug industry has significantly lowered medical treatment for patients and is essential to providing life-saving treatments around the world. In 2001, one of India's generic companies produced a three-in-one HIV/AIDS treatment for one dollar a day at a time when brand-name pharmaceutical companies were charging almost $12,000 a year. Competition among generic drug manufacturers in India has also effectively brought down the price of medicines for HIV, tuberculosis, and cancer by more than 90%. Affordable Indian generics have saved not just millions of dollars, but millions of lives over the past decade with organizations like Doctors Without Borders buying 80% of its medicines and expanding treatment to different parts of the world.

"In a world where medicines are increasingly being patented, which blocks the production of more affordable generic versions, we're going to see more and more people become sick or die because the medicines they need to stay alive are simply too expensive," Menghaney said. U.S. lawmakers shouldn't be bowing down to pressure from powerful pharmaceutical companies let alone put ruthless lobbying pressure on a country whose industry is actually doing a world of good. With new U.S.-India trade negotiations coming up, the U.S. pharmaceutical industry's profits should not weigh more than the access to affordable treatment for any human being.

today warned that India faces retaliatory political pressure from the US government and pharmaceutical industry for its efforts to legally limit abusive patenting practices and to increase access to affordable generic medicines.

Pharmaceutical companies are aggressively lobbying congress and the Obama administration in a broad campaign to press India into changing its intellectual property laws. India is a critical producer of affordable medicines, and competition among generic drug manufacturers there has brought down the price of medicines for HIV, TB, and cancer by more than 90 percent.

- See more at: http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/press/release.cfm?id=7077&cat=press-release#sthash.KYIE3WMJ.d 

today warned that India faces retaliatory political pressure from the US government and pharmaceutical industry for its efforts to legally limit abusive patenting practices and to increase access to affordable generic medicines.

Pharmaceutical companies are aggressively lobbying congress and the Obama administration in a broad campaign to press India into changing its intellectual property laws. India is a critical producer of affordable medicines, and competition among generic drug manufacturers there has brought down the price of medicines for HIV, TB, and cancer by more than 90 percent.

- See more at: http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/press/release.cfm?id=7077&cat=press-release#sthash.KYIE3WMJ.dpuf

today warned that India faces retaliatory political pressure from the US government and pharmaceutical industry for its efforts to legally limit abusive patenting practices and to increase access to affordable generic medicines.

Pharmaceutical companies are aggressively lobbying congress and the Obama administration in a broad campaign to press India into changing its intellectual property laws. India is a critical producer of affordable medicines, and competition among generic drug manufacturers there has brought down the price of medicines for HIV, TB, and cancer by more than 90 percent.

- See more at: http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/press/release.cfm?id=7077&cat=press-release#sthash.KYIE3WMJ.dpuf

today warned that India faces retaliatory political pressure from the US government and pharmaceutical industry for its efforts to legally limit abusive patenting practices and to increase access to affordable generic medicines.

Pharmaceutical companies are aggressively lobbying congress and the Obama administration in a broad campaign to press India into changing its intellectual property laws. India is a critical producer of affordable medicines, and competition among generic drug manufacturers there has brought down the price of medicines for HIV, TB, and cancer by more than 90 percent.

- See more at: http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/press/release.cfm?id=7077&cat=press-release#sthash.KYIE3WMJ.dpuf

On the eve of a meeting between US president Barack Obama and Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh at the White House, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today warned that India faces retaliatory political pressure from the US government and pharmaceutical industry for its efforts to legally limit abusive patenting practices and to increase access to affordable generic medicines.

Pharmaceutical companies are aggressively lobbying congress and the Obama administration in a broad campaign to press India into changing its intellectual property laws. India is a critical producer of affordable medicines, and competition among generic drug manufacturers there has brought down the price of medicines for HIV, TB, and cancer by more than 90 percent.

- See more at: http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/press/release.cfm?id=7077&cat=press-release#sthash.KYIE3WMJ.dpuf

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Hyacinth Mascarenhas

Hyacinth is a graduate of the George Washington University where she majored in Journalism and Mass Communications. Her interests include cultural, social and political trends in the Middle East and South Asia, as well as human rights issues across the globe.

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