India-European Union Free Trade Agreement is running into problems as the issue of accepting provisions on pharmaceuticals has come up with the danger of limited access to affordable medicine.
The Indian government is being asked to reject pressure from the European Union which is trying to get rid of a competitive market in India, according to Anand Grover, U.N. special reporter on Right to Health. Thousands of HIV-positive people from India and other Asian countries joined in a march to express their demands.
The organizers protested that the European Union was pushing for intellectual property provisions in the FTA that was not in line with international trade rules. Data exclusivity would take on the role of a patent and would inhibit generic versions from the market, making low-cost medicines unavailable to the HIV positive. The patent law in India has long irked multinational pharmaceutical companies like Novartis and Bayer who have even taken the matter to courts in a bid to protect their interests.
Indian pharmaceutical companies, which manufacture cheap medicines for HIV patients and cancer and hepatitis-C sufferers have been opposing the India-EU negotiations.
Grover also claimed that three ministries -- commerce, chemical and fertilizers and health and family welfare -- have opposed the FTA.
Asia Pacific Network of Positive People reported that Asian patients had limited resources and could only rely on affordable medicines to stay alive. In an emotional appeal, the Indian government was asked not to trade away the lives of HIV patients in the EU-India FTA.