Indian Parliament Must ‘Protect’ Country’s Ability To Make ‘Crucial’ Generic AIDS Drugs, Editorial Says
The Indian Parliament must "protec[t]" the country's ability to make "crucial" generic antiretroviral drugs by reforming a bill that would limit the nation's capability to produce and sell generic versions of drugs patented since 1995, a New York Times editorial says (New York Times, 3/6). 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. However, the bill would change India's laws to bring it in line with a World Trade Organization agreement on intellectual property that it signed in 1994 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/1). Some of the bill's provisions "would go far beyond" WTO requirements, the editorial says, adding that the order also "bears the heavy footprint of multinational and Indian pharmaceutical companies that are eager to sell high-priced drugs to India's middle class." Therefore, the Indian Parliament must reform the bill to "cut the red tape that can block" compulsory licenses -- which allow generic drug manufacturers to copy patented drugs -- and "eliminate the loophole that prevents medicines from going to the poorest countries," according to the Times. The parliament also should remove a provision in the bill that would allow a manufacturer to extend a patent by "simply finding a new use for a drug," the editorial says. Instead of passing the "flawed" bill, the Indian Parliament should refer it to a committee for public testimony about possible changes, the editorial says, concluding, "Seldom has India's Parliament considered anything of such global import. If parliament can preserve India's ability to provide generic versions of these medicines, it will make the difference between life and death for millions of people at home and abroad" (New York Times, 3/6).