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Rediff.com  » Business » India to be firm on IPR at AIDS meet

India to be firm on IPR at AIDS meet

June 08, 2011 10:46 IST

Indian flagIndia is readying to take a 'zero tolerance' position in the ongoing tussle between the developing and the developed world on a regime for Intellectual Property Rights, at a three-day United Nations General Assembly High Level Meeting on AIDS, scheduled in New York from Thursday.

The Indian delegation, led by Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, will include a member of the country's Permanent Mission to the UN.

IPR has become a key area of negotiation in the meeting, after the European Union and countries such as USA and Japan called for changes in the draft declaration that mentions flexible IPR laws to aid low-cost production of AIDS medicines.

Any move to tighten IPR laws may negatively affect the prospects of India's generic drug industry, which contributes the bulk of global low-cost AIDS drug supplies, experts say.

The UN meeting is meant to review the progress of global efforts to tackle the AIDS epidemic, which surfaced about 30 years ago.

The first UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS took place 10 years earlier.

The meeting will also chart the course of the global AIDS response and member-countries are to adopt a declaration reaffirming current commitments and making changes for the future.

"Issues related to IPR are a big concern for us. The EU and the US want us to sign a clause which will pretty much put our generic industry out of the anti-retroviral manufacturing business.

"Its health implications are huge, as India serves not only the country's patients but also the entire developing and least developed world," said Anjali Gopalan, director of Naz Foundation and a civil society representative in the Indian delegation to the meeting.

Draft

The draft declaration wants member-nations to recognise the pivotal role of research in underpinning progress in HIV prevention, treatment, care and support, and welcome the advances in scientific knowledge about HIV and its prevention and treatment.

It also expresses concern that the greater enforcement of medicine patents in middle and low-income countries significantly limits generic competition for newer generations of HIV treatments.

It says trade barriers, regulations, policies and practices, as well as bilateral and regional trade agreements that impose IP protections stricter than necessary under the Trade Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement under the World Trade Organisation, limit access to affordable HIV treatment and other pharmaceutical products in middle-income and low-income countries.

The third point in the draft declaration, that had become the centre of debate, is the call to address obstacles which limit the capacity of these countries to provide affordable HIV treatment by amending national laws to optimise full use of the TRIPS agreement flexibilities.

It also talks about the use of new mechanisms like the Medicines Patent Pool.

In a recent statement, Matthew Kavanagh of Health GAP (Global Access Project), who is following the negotiations in New York, had complained that the 'EU is working with the US to remove or significantly dilute any language in the text related to increasing access to safe, effective and affordable generic medicines'.

Joe C Mathew in New Delhi
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