U.S. Legal Experts, AIDS Advocates Urge India To Amend Order Preventing Production of Some Generic Antiretroviral Drugs
U.S. legal experts and AIDS advocates have urged the Indian Parliament to amend a Dec. 26, 2004, executive order that would limit the country's ability to produce and sell generic versions of drugs patented since 1995, including antiretroviral drugs, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. India, which is the third-largest producer and a major exporter of generic drugs, previously did not recognize international patents, allowing the country to produce generic versions of medications that were patented in other countries, according to APF/Yahoo! News. However, the order would change India's laws to bring it in line with a World Trade Organization agreement on intellectual property that it signed in 1994. Legal experts and AIDS advocates have asked parliament to reject the order or allow it to expire in six months so that it can be revised, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. Some AIDS advocates say that not allowing Indian generic drug companies to produce antiretroviral drugs could harm public health programs in areas heavily affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, including Africa. "Hundreds of millions of lives are at stake," Brook Baker, a law professor at Northeastern University School of Law and a policy adviser to the Health Global Access Project, said. Paul Zeitz, executive director of the Global AIDS Alliance, said, "This is really about our ability to get these lifesaving medicines in the mouths of people that urgently need them" (AFP/Yahoo! News, 2/25). Amartya Sen, a Nobel laureate economist, said that he would like the Indian government to examine the patent-rights issue with "greater scrutiny," adding, "This is a serious issue where the government of India must make itself heard in the world community. I hope the government will do this with humanity" (Press Trust of India, 2/24). U.S., African and Indian AIDS advocates on Saturday held protests at the Indian embassy in Washington, D.C., to "show solidarity" with similar protests held in India, according to AFP/Yahoo! News (AFP/Yahoo! News, 2/25).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.