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Action Alert: Join in Global Week of Action to Protect India's Generic Medicines

3. February 2012

    Campaigners in India and Europe, including members of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance, are calling for a Global Week of Action on the European Union (EU) – India Free Trade Agreement (FTA), 6-10 February 2012.

     

    As part of the FTA discussions, negotiations on intellectual property have taken place in January and news reports indicate that they have “progressed” without details on what has been agreed. On 10 February, the EU and India will agree on and finalize the political framework for the FTA. Groups in India are very concerned about the intellectual property provisions that may affect the production and supply of essential medicines around the world.

     

    At the EU-India Summit to be held in Delhi next week, the EU and India will agree on and finalize the political framework for the FTA. Campaigners for improved access to HIV drugs are worried – how have the IP negotiations progressed? Does the FTA include provisions that will seriously hamper India’s ability to manufacture safe, effective and affordable generic medicines and export these to other developing countries?

     

    The Delhi Network of Positive People & Lawyers Collective HIV/AIDS Unit note that:
     

    • In 2001, India’s generics brought prices down from $15000 per person per year to $350 for first line AIDS medicines.
    • 80% of people living with HIV in developing countries are on Indian generic ARVs.
    • Over 90% of pediatric AIDS medicines are supplied by Indian generics.


    Since 2007, people living with HIV in India and across the world have been resisting the pressure of the EU on India to sign an FTA with provisions on intellectual property that will endanger access to generic medicines from India. Groups in India are asking that we once more show the EU and the Indian government that lives cannot be traded away!

     

    Their Demands

     

    REMOVE:

    • Investment Rules, as they enable foreign companies to take the Indian government to private courts over domestic health policies like measures to reduce prices of medicines.
    • Border Measures, as they will deny medicines to patients in other developing countries with custom officials seizing generic medicines in transit.
    • Injunctions, as they undermine the independence of the Indian judiciary to protect right to health of patients over the profits of drug companies.
    • Other Intellectual Property Enforcement Measures, as they put third parties like treatment providers at risk of police actions and court cases.

     

    DON’T BRING BACK:

    • Data Exclusivity, as it delays the registration of generic medicines and will not permit the placing of affordable versions of pediatric doses and combinations of “off-patent” medicines on the market. IT’S NOT REQUIRED UNDER THE TRIPS AGREEMENT!
    • Patent Term Extension, as it will extend patent life beyond 20 years.


    The EU states that these two provisions are off the table. It must keep its word!

     

    In the coming days, groups from around the world and in India will demonstrate against the EU-India FTA. They are asking you to join them.

     

    What you can do:

    1. Organise your own rally: You can organize rallies or demonstrations in front of European Commission offices in your countries to voice your opposition to their aggressive negotiations on intellectual property in FTAs. Don't forget that the EU is also negotiating FTAs with many other developing countries and making the same demands.
    2. Raise awareness/media action: Even though you might not be able to support the actions in India financially or physically you can help by spreading the word about their – and your – concerns. Write an editorial in your local paper. Hold a press conference. Issue a press release or press statement.
    3. Write to the Indian Government: You can also write to the Indian Government asking it to stay strong and not give in to the demands of the European Commission. India, as the pharmacy of the developing world, has an obligation to its citizens as well as patients across the world. Please try and meet the Indian ambassadors in your countries and convey to them how important it is that India reject ALL the demands of the EU. Millions of lives depend on this.
    4. Write to your own government: Public health programmes around the world depend on generic medicines from India. Ask your government to tell the EU and the Indian government to keep IP out of the FTA negotiations.  
    5. Share your actions: PLEASE send the Indian campaigners photos, articles, videos of all your actions immediately and FOLLOW the actions of other groups here: www.facebook.com/pages/Stop-the-EU-India-Free-Trade-Agreement/144687138908841 and here donttradeourlivesaway.wordpress.com
    6. Donate: In order to organize these protests, the campaigners rely on funding. Any financial support is welcome. No amount is too small – or too big! If you know organizations, which are interested in funding, if you want donate to the protest, please contact donttradeourlivesaway@gmail.com.

    7. For information on the EU-India FTA see:
      ITPC: www.itpcglobal.org/index.php
      MSF’s Europe Hands Off Our Medicine Campaign: www.msfaccess.org/hands-off-our-medicine-campaign
      Oxfam: www.oxfam.org/en/policy/trading-away-access-medicines


The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance is a broad international network of churches and Christian organizations cooperating in advocacy on food and HIV and AIDS. The Alliance is based in Geneva, Switzerland. For more information, see http://www.e-alliance.ch/

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