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
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
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.