India Patent Law May Hurt AIDS Treatment

    March 24, 2005

India has passed a new patent law which amends the country’s 1970 Patent Act, and affects many items including medicines.

India is a large source inexpensive drugs used for AIDS treatment, and some fear that this new law will the supply of new treatments.

A New York Times article says:

“Because millions of poor people in India and elsewhere – including by some estimates half the AIDS patients in the Third World – rely on India’s generic drug industry, lobbyists for multinational drug companies as well as activists fighting for cheap drugs had descended on New Delhi to try to influence the outcome.

The law, which passed by a voice vote in Parliament’s upper house yesterday after days of wrangling over amendments in the lower house, was in the end not as restrictive as the drug activists had feared.”

“Because India is one of the world’s biggest producers of generic drugs, this law will have a severe knock-on effect on many developing countries which depend on imported generic drugs from India,” says Samar Verma of British charity Oxfam.

“Oxfam fears that the prices of drugs will be out of reach for millions living with HIV-AIDS in Africa and elsewhere,” stated the agency.

Generic drug makers in other countries may or may not be able to fill the increasing demand for cheaper drugs.

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