India, a critical producer of affordable generic medicines, has faced an increasing barrage of intense criticism for its progressive patent law and policies, not only from multinational pharmaceutical companies but also from the United States government.
India’s progressive policies play a key role in enabling its generic manufacturers to compete and produce medicines at affordable prices. Thanks to competition stemming from Indian generics, the price of medicines to treat diseases such as HIV, TB and cancer are down by more than 90 percent from the actual price being offered by the multinational pharmaceutical companies; for example, the price of first-line antiretroviral (ARVs) drugs to treat HIV has dropped from more than US$10,000 per person per year in 2000 to around US$136 per person per year today. This significant price cut has helped to scale up expansion of HIV treatment worldwide to nearly 14 million people today.
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Indian patent law includes important, internationally sanctioned, public health safeguards that limit abusive patenting practices. The U.S. vehemently opposes the use of these safeguards that enable healthy generic competition which undermines the interests of the US pharmaceutical industry. Routine decisions by India’s patent offices and courts in favour of public health are now being subjected to international scrutiny. Increased political pressure from the US is threatening the very policies that have enabled India to become the ‘pharmacy of the developing world’.
It is clear that access to affordable life-saving medicines for millions in the coming years will depend on the Indian government’s decisions and the kind of patent system it endorses.
Succumbing to relentless pressure from the US, the Indian government has set up an IP (Intellectual Property) Think Tank that seeks to draft a national IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) policy with the objective to bring more ‘clarity’ to the country’s patent laws. There are fears that setting up such a think tank and bringing out policies over and above the existing patent law would provide a gateway to US and multinational pharmaceutical companies to fulfil its longtime wish of bringing changes in India’s patent laws and policies in favour of corporate interest.
As President Barack Obama arrives in India this weekend for the Republic Day celebration, the key focus for the India–U.S. dialogue during his visit will be on intellectual property rights and thebilateral investment treaty (BIT).
India now faces a grave public health challenge. It is clear that access to affordable life-saving medicines for millions in the coming years will depend on the Indian government’s decisions and the kind of patent system it endorses.
Share the tweets below to help us send a message to President Obama and multinational pharmaceutical companies to keep their Hands Off Our Medicines! Urge Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi to stand strong in the face of U.S. pressure and to reject any proposal that could affect India’s production of lifesaving affordable generics, upon which millions of people across the world rely.
You can direct your messages to the US President and PMO India through social media conversations by adding #USAHandsOff to your Tweets.
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HELP US GET THEIR ATTENTION!
The following people can protect access to affordable medicines with their decisions! Please add your voice!
Barack Obama – President of the United States of America @BarackObama
Narendra Modi – Prime Minister of India – @narendramodi @PMOIndia
Nirmala Sitharaman – Union Minister of State, Commerce & Industry of India @nsitharaman
Commerce & Industry Minister of India – @CimGOI