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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs