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New bill threatens availability of generic drugs

TEAR Fund New Zealand
For Immediate Release: 24/03/05

New bill threatens availability of generic drugs

TEAR Fund New Zealand is concerned, under a bill approved today, India will start granting product patents for medicines - something they have not done since 1970 - without the necessary procedures to safeguard against a wholesale increase of medicine prices.

India is a major supplier of the world's generic medicines; it exports two-thirds of its products to developing countries. These exports are critical to the fight against AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, South America, and Southern and Southeast Asia. Generic competition fueled by Indian production has been largely responsible for reducing the prices of antiretrovirals by as much as 98%.

India has amended its 1970 Patent Act in order to be compliant with the requirements of the World Trade Organisation. Changes to the act will limit production of generic alternatives for newer drugs.

"Continued affordable availability of generic drugs is essential in the global fight against AIDS. At TEAR Fund we are concerned the amendment to India's Patent Act has been influenced by multinational drug companies," says TEAR Fund Executive Director Stephen Tollestrup.


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