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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update
INDIA: Free-Trade Proposal May Affect Supply of AIDS Drugs
Rama Lakshmi
February 13, 2012
Washington Post (02.11.12) - Monday, February 13, 2012

India's production and export of low-cost HIV drugs to developing countries could scale back significantly if a far- reaching free-trade agreement between India and the European Union goes through, health activists demonstrating Friday in New Delhi.

India is known as the "pharmacy of the developing world" thanks to its thriving generic drug industry. Some 80 percent of HIV drugs distributed by governments and aid organizations in poor nations come from India.

Activists who reviewed a leaked version of the proposed agreement say it calls for stricter enforcement of intellectual property rights. "There are clauses in the negotiations that will have a chilling effect on the production and use of affordable generic HIV medicines," said Leena Menghaney, a Doctors Without Borders representative in India. "These medicines will be stopped at Indian ports and European transit ports on mere allegations of patent violation." But David Lipman, EU ambassador to Thailand, disputed that claim, saying "nothing in the proposed agreement would limit India's freedom to produce and export medicines." The proposal, if approved, would be the world's largest free- trade pact, covering roughly 1.7 billion people. The United States does not have an agreement with India, though the two nations have discussed entering into one. The cost of first- line HIV drugs has dropped from $10,000 per year per patient in 2000 to about $150 because of India's production.