Patients Before Patents, Groups Urge
By Stephen Leahy
Jan 29 (IPS) – A quarter of a million people from over 150 countries don’t think a multinational drug company should seek to overturn a provision of India’s patent law that permits the manufacture of low-cost life-saving drugs for the world’s poor.
Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis AG went to India’s High Court Monday to challenge India’s new patent laws despite months of pressure from health organisations working in the developing world.
“If Novartis wins it could mean the end of India’s generic drug industry,” says Tido von Schoen-Angerer, director of the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines, which launched a global petition to pressure the company.
India has become the pharmacy for the world’s poor. More than half of all the developing world’s HIV/AIDS patients rely on low-cost generic drugs from India, von Schoen-Angerer told IPS.
“Eighty percent of the 80,000 HIV/AIDS patients in MSF programmes receive generic drugs from India,” he said.
Many global health programmes like UNAIDS 3X5 Initiative and the U.S. Agency for International Development’s President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PepFar) also rely on Indian generics saving millions of dollars, he said.
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