05 Nov 2010

European Commission should mind the deadly impact of EU-INDIA Free Trade Agreement

Amsterdam, 5 November 2010 – The Global Network of People living with HIV joins with Médecines Sans Frontières to call for the European Commission to stop pushing life threatening policies in its trade negotiations with India.

The European Commission is currently negotiating a free trade agreement with India which includes policies and agreements that will greatly restrict access to affordable medicines for people in developing countries.

India has a large pharmaceutical industry that is producing generic medicines for life threatening illnesses such as HIV-infection. Trade agreements, such as the one the European Union is negotiating with India, will result in blocking access to this supply of affordable medicines in countries beyond India and would risk the health of millions of people that need these medications.

Many international donors, including European and other governments, have previously purchased generic medications from India. In 2008 up to 90 percent of certain types of HIV medicines bought by international donors were generics produced in India, which were then disseminated across the world reaching millions of people living with HIV. Without the option of generics, these people would have no treatment. Médecines Sans Frontières alone for example is providing 160,000 people with HIV medications from generic producers.

“Restrictive trade policies would indirectly kill people in need of these medications,” stated Kevin Moody, International Coordinator and CEO of the Global Network of people living with HIV: “It would also be a death sentence for already weak health systems in developing countries where treating HIV infection and HIV related illnesses is a heavy burden on small budgets.”

Generic medications are quality medicines which are produced and distributed without patent protection. Most medications initially carry patent protection, which is an exclusive right that prevents other companies from producing, distributing and selling the medicine. When a patent expires – typically after twenty years, or in case of emergency circumstances, patent protections can be broken allowing for free market competition between producers and subsequent price adjustments.

The India–EU Free Trade agreement is not the only threat for developing countries to access affordable medicines. Europe has been closing different bilateral trade agreements with countries around the world, which include intellectual property provisions that are tougher than required under international law. In addition, EC customs regulations in the past years have led to custom authorities detaining several shipments of for example HIV and high blood pressure medications from India destined for developing countries.

The Global Network of People living with HIV is calling on other individuals and organisations to support the MSF Campaign “EUROPE! HANDS OFF OUR MEDICINE”.

To support the campaign, go to https://action.msf.org and send a message to the European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht to get his hands off the medicines that keep us and our children alive.

The Global Network of People living with HIV (GNP+) is a global network for and by people living with HIV. GNP+ advocates to improve the quality of life of people living with HIV. The central theme for the work of GNP+ is Reclaiming Our Lives! GNP+ programmes are organised under four platforms of action: Empowerment; Positive Health, Dignity and Prevention; Human Rights; and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.

More information about this news release: Please contact GNP+ (Martin Stolk, Communications officer, by email mstolk@gnpplus.net, or phone +31-20-423 4114)

Share this