Trade pact with EU won’t impact pharma industry: India

December 10th, 2010 - 11:40 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sarwar Kashani
Brussels, Dec 10 (IANS) India Friday said the free trade agreement with the European Union will not bar its pharma companies from manufacturing and exporting generic drugs.”Nothing in the agreement would limit TRIPS (Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights) flexibilities concerning access to medicines,” according to a report on the progress of Broad Based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) from the commerce ministry said.

The report was released as the EU-India summit was held here.

Health activists in India and Europe had expressed fears that the bilateral trade deal, to be wrapped up early 2011 after hectic negotiations, could impact supplies of affordable generic drugs from India.

Because of the off-patent drugs, from India and Brazil, the cost of life saving medicines including anti-AIDS drugs has come down drastically all over the world.

Doctors of the Medecins Sans Frontières (MSF), an NGO, staged protests near the summit venue in Brussels demanding that the EU should not undermine supply of affordable medicines from India.

In a statement, MSF - a global NGO that provides emergency aid to people - demanded that “the EU stop pursuing measures that undermine India’s role as a producer of affordable life-saving generic medicines”.

It said that over 80 percent of the AIDS medicines used to treat more than five million people across the developing world come from producers in India.

As a part of the negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) with India, the European Union is pushing several provisions that would limit competition, in particular “data exclusivity”, which would act like a patent and block the marketing of generic medicines for up to 10 years.

“The EU and India agree that the final outcome should provide real additional market opportunities for both sides. This will be reflected in offers which will be exchanged by early date,” the report said.

It said good progress has been made on reducing tariffs and the revised offers would give advantage to India.

The areas on which consensus is yet to emerge relate to environment, transparency and government procurement.

The EU is facing pressure from some of its members to include environment related issues in the trade agreement, which India is resisting.

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