EU/India trade deal could cut off cheap ARV supply to SA - TAC/SECTION27

Organisations say 80% of people living with HIV in developing world use Indian generic ARVs

MSF-SA, TAC, SECTION27 and He-Tic picket at the Consulate General of India

Members of MSF-SA, TAC, Section 27 and He-Tic will picket at the Consulate General of India this Wednesday, 8th February to voice their concerns about the anti-public health policies being pushed on India by the European Union as part of a free trade agreement being discussed at the upcoming EU-India Summit in New Delhi on 10th February.

WHERE: Outside the Consulate General of India, No.1, Eton Road (Corner Jan Smuts Avenue & Eton Road), Parktown, Johannesburg

WHEN: 12h00 on Wednesday 8th February

WHY: India and the European Union are currently negotiating a free trade agreement (FTA) which includes provisions that could threaten production in India of affordable, high-quality generic medicines for HIV, cancer, mental illness, heart disease, and others.

Because of its strong generic pharmaceutical industry, India has long been considered "the pharmacy of the developing world":

Indian generics helped to bring down the price of anti-retrovirals (ARVs) from R5,000 in the 1990s to less than R100 a month today.

80% of people living with HIV and receiving treatment in developing countries use Indian generic ARVs.

Over 90% of pediatric AIDS medicines are supplied by Indian generics.

Currently, the EU is pushing for India to adopt measures which could choke generic production in the country, potentially threatening access to medicines for millions of people worldwide.

Negotiations on the proposed India-EU FTA will culminate at the EU-India Summit, taking place in New Delhi on 10th February. At the Summit, the EU and India will finalise a political framework for the FTA, and both sides will announce their "trade-offs". India must not give into pressure from EU to accept provisions that will restrict generic production and harm public health.

Feb 3-10 marks a GLOBAL week of action against the anti-public health proposals in the India-EU FTA.

By picketing at the Indian embassy on Wed 8th Feb, TAC, MSF, Section27 and He-Tic will add their voices to those around the world who are sending a message to India and the EU that their lives are not for sale and cannot be traded away.

A related PRESS RELEASE will be issued on Wednesday AM 8th February. 

For further information or to arrange interviews, please contact:

Kate Ribet, Communications Officer, MSF SA

[email protected] or 079 872 2950

Open letter to the High Commissioner to India for South Africa from TAC and SECTION27

Mr Virendra Gupta

High Commissioner for India to South Africa

852, Schoeman Street
Arcadia - 0083 Pretoria

By fax: +27 (012) 342 5310

6 February 2012

Dear Mr Gupta

RE: Urgent concerns with final negotiations for the EU-India Free Trade Agreement

The Treatment Action Campaign and SECTION27 would like to request a meeting with you prior to the EU-India Summit, to be held on 10 February 2012. In the meeting, we would like to discuss provisions for the scale up of intellectual property, pushed by the European Union, in the impending EU-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the impact of these provisions on the health of people across the developing world.

Affordable antiretroviral medicines (ARVs) coming from India have been critical to the rollout and scale up of ARVs for people living with HIV across Africa. A recent study of ARV purchases between 2003 and 2008, found that India supplied over 80% of antiretroviral medicines for the treatment of HIV in the developing world.[1] Beyond HIV, India is a vital supplier of affordable generic medicines to treat all diseases. The International Dispensary Association, for example, procures over 75% of its medicines from India for the treatment of all diseases.[2]

We are therefore deeply concerned that the impending trade agreement between India and the EU could undermine India's ability to continue to supply medicines to the developing world.

On 1 July 2010, the TAC wrote to the former High Commissioner to South Africa, Mr Bhatia, highlighting our concerns with provisions in draft versions of the FTA.[3] Most of these concerns remain urgent today as the EU continues to push many of these provisions in the final stages of negotiations, including data exclusivity and enforcement measures.

Data exclusivity is a tool the EU is pushing to delay the registration and sale of generics - even in cases where the originator company does not hold a patent in the country of sale. During the period of data exclusivity, generic companies cannot use clinical trial data of the originator company to register their products for sale. In most cases generic producers are unable to repeat the clinical trials of the originator company as it would be unethical to carry out a trial on human subjects for a medicine already proven effective, in addition to the cost and time constraints of carrying out such trials.

The EU is also pushing for strict enforcement measures in the FTA, including border measures to allow customs officials to seize medicines in transit for alleged patent or trademark disputes. Additionally the EU is pushing for an ‘investor-to-state dispute mechanism' in the investment chapter of the FTA. This would allow pharmaceutical companies to sue the Indian government through arbitration mechanisms outside of India's judicial system. For instance, this would allow a pharmaceutical company to sue the Indian government for instituting a pro-public health policy in a tribunal that does not uphold the country's constitutional right to health.

Measures pushed by the EU in the FTA would effectively block India from producing and exporting many medicines - resulting in higher prices for and reduced access to medicines across the developing world.

During negotiations with the EU, India has resisted provisions to scale up intellectual property protections pushed by the EU. We urge India to retain this stance throughout the final stages of the negotiations by rejecting the inclusion of any intellectual property provisions as well as border and enforcement measures in the EU-India trade agreement. 

We would like to request a meeting to discuss our concerns further.

Yours respectfully,

Nonkosi Khumalo

Acting General Secretary of the Treatment Action Campaign

Mark Heywood

Director of SECTION27

Statement issued by TAC and SECTION27, February 7 2012

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