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Indian Parliament to Discuss Patent Law - Millions of Lives at Stake
February 25, 2005
February 25, 2005 – As the Indian Parliament prepares to tackle the country's implementation of the World Trade Organization's (WTO) agreement regulating patents on medicines, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is urging Indian decision makers to ensure that patients in developing countries will continue to have access to affordable medicines. MSF believes the proposed amendments to India's Patent Act of 1970 drastically restrict, perhaps even prevent, the production and supply of vital therapies by Indian pharmaceutical companies to other developing countries.
MSF treats 25,000 people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide, and roughly 70% of our patients take Indian generic medicines. The low cost and user-friendliness of these WHO-recommended combination pills has allowed MSF to increase the numbers of people under treatment dramatically over the past three years. We fear that once these patients, and hundreds of thousands of others like them in developing countries, need second-line treatment, the lack of generic competition due to patents on new medicines in countries like India will mean that people and communities will no longer be able to afford the much-needed treatments.