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India A Lifeline To HIV+ In Poor Nations

Times of India
18 September 2010
By Rema Nagarajan

80% Of Donor–Funded Drugs Come From Country, Says Unitaid
Anew study has established that Indian generic manufacturers supplied over 80% of donor–funded AIDS medicines to developing countries in the last seven years, confirming India’s status as the pharmacy of the Third World.

India A Lifeline To HIV+ In Poor Nations
The study–A lifeline to treatment: the role of Indian generic manufacturers in supplying antiretroviral medicines to developing countries–was done by Unitaid, an international facility for the purchase of drugs against HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB founded in 2006, Boston School of Medicine and the Centre for International Development, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

According to the study, in 2008, India–produced generics accounted for 91% of paediatric anti–retroviral (ARV) volume. AIDS treatment has experienced startling progress over recent years, with about four million people starting treatment between 2003 and 2008, largely due to India’s ability to produce low–cost quality medicines, said a Unitaid statement.

The study also expressed concern that the legal framework in India that facilitated such production was changing with the implementation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement on Trade–Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Unitaid also expressed concern over intellectual property measures beyond TRIPS being negotiated in regional and bilateral free trade agreements.

"From 2003 to 2008, the number of Indian generic manufactures supplying ARVs increased from four to 10 while the number of Indian–manufactured generic products increased from 14 to 53. Ninety–six of 100 countries purchased Indian generic ARVs in 2008, including high HIV–burden sub–Saharan African countries," said the study. They were cheaper too. The Indian generic version of the most commonly used first–line adult regimen (lamivudine/ nevirapine/ stavudine) dropped from $414 per person per year in 2003 to $74 in 2008.

"Indian manufacturers of generic ARV medicines facilitated the rapid scale up of HIV/AIDS treatment in developing countries though provision of low–priced, quality–assured medicines," observed the study. Rather than agreeing to inappropriate intellectual property obligations through FTAs, India and its trade partners should ensure continuity in supplying developing countries low–priced, quality–assured generic medicines, the study concluded.

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