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

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs