News / Asia

Indian Health Activists Protest Proposed EU Trade Deal

People affected with HIV participate in a protest rally to oppose a free trade agreement between India and European Union in New Delhi, India, April 10, 2013.People affected with HIV participate in a protest rally to oppose a free trade agreement between India and European Union in New Delhi, India, April 10, 2013.
x
People affected with HIV participate in a protest rally to oppose a free trade agreement between India and European Union in New Delhi, India, April 10, 2013.
People affected with HIV participate in a protest rally to oppose a free trade agreement between India and European Union in New Delhi, India, April 10, 2013.
Anjana Pasricha
In India, health activists and people living with HIV and cancer are protesting a trade deal in the final stages of negotiation with the European Union, saying it could threaten India’s ability to provide affordable, life-saving medicines around the world. From New Delhi, Anjana Pasricha has more. 

Hundreds of people living with HIV and cancer marched through the streets of New Delhi Wednesday, holding placards like "Europe, Hands Off Our Medicine" and "Stop FTA’s, Not AIDS medicines."

They say the European Union is seeking to impose tighter intellectual property protection in a free trade pact being negotiated with India. Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma will be in Brussels on April 15 to iron out differences and give a final push to the treaty.    

Health activists say some provisions of the pact could stifle India’s thriving generic drug industry, whose cheaper drugs are a lifeline for millions of people with diseases like HIV and cancer across Asia and Africa.

They cite a provision which could delay generic versions from entering the market by extending the duration of drug patents.  They say this will block competition from Indian drug manufacturers and push up prices. They also fear that demand for investor guarantees could adversely impact generic drug companies.

Pratibha Subramaniam is at the rally representing Lawyers Collective, which has been fighting for almost 15 years for affordable medicines for people suffering from HIV.   

“Because of the presence of first-line generic anti-HIV medicines, positive people have been able to survive and we have been able to make HIV from a death sentence to a chronic manageable condition. But, now we are really scared," said Subramaniam. "We are really worried and also we apprehend that most of the newer drugs are patented and they are really very costly and we wont we able to afford them."  

The rally was led by people who can vouch for the importance of generic drugs.

Vikas Ahuja, 41, contracted HIV when he was about 20 years old. At that time, anti-AIDS drugs were out of reach for most people in countries like India.   

"I used to sleep everyday thinking that I wont wake up in the morning. That was the  notion I went through for the next 10 years," said Ahuja. "Eventually, when my CD4 [type of white blood cell] count dropped to 34, in a normal human it is 1100 to 1200, I was taken to this ART [anti retroviral treatment] clinic where they distribute this free generics, courtesy which I am standing here today."

Indian officials have not commented on the concerns of health activists on the trade pact with the European Union, but the government has been proactive in protecting the country’s thriving generic drug industry. 

Western pharmaceutical companies have been pushing for measures to strengthen intellectual property in India.  Recently, India’s supreme court turned down a patent request for anti-cancer drug Glivek, produced by Swiss pharmaceutical company, Novartis, saying it was not a new drug but an amended version of a known one.

The European Union is India’s largest trading partner and a free trade pact is expected to give a major boost to business on both sides.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid