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No More Cheap Generics Medicine From India?

No More Cheap Generics Medicine From India?

By Marietta Gross - Scoop Media Auckland.

Scoop Report: The Indian Parliament has moved to prohibit the manufacture of cost-effective generics. The law was just passed by India's House of Commons. But the House of Lords’ approbation is necessary for the prohibition to be enacted. The legislation has resulted due to pressure on India from the World Health Organisation for it to comply with first world drug manufacturing standards.

However, proponents of cheap drugs manufactured in India, such as Medicins sans frontiers, warn of a restriction of access towards the lifesaving medicine for millions of people.

The new legislation will substitute the previous patent law, which allowed India's manufacturers to copy patented drugs. The precondition was the use of a different manufacturing procedure.

This liberal approach has helped India’s pharmaceutical industry to develop rapidly in the recent 30 years. The Indian government argues that the recognition of patents was a decisive precondition for research by the pharma industry on its own and their attraction for foreign investors.

Activists from the health sector have called the government to rethink its position. Ellen’t Hoen from Medicins sans frontieres explained that 50 per cent of AIDS patients in developing countries were dependent on generics from India.

The 545 members of the House of Commons passed the bill after members of the nationalistic Hindu opposition party had left the hall.

They claimed the law would equal a selling off to the international pharmaceutical industry. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) warned that passing this law would lead to a massive increase of drug prices.

BJP chairman V.K. Malhotra explained that with the passing of this new law, the government was responsible for the consequences and the effects on people reliant on affordable medicine. Economy minister Kamal Nath emphasized that the government had opportunities to respond adequately to an unexpected price rise.

© Scoop Media

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