July 11, 2011
At a July 5 meeting, Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma reassured UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibe that ongoing trade talks between India and the European Union will not impede the supply of generic HIV/AIDS drugs.
"The government of India reaffirms its full commitment to ensure that quality generic medicines, including antiretroviral [ARV] drugs, are seamlessly available, and to make them available to all countries," said Sharma. "India will also use the flexibilities allowed under [the copyright pact] TRIPS, including the use of compulsory licensing, to ensure that people living with HIV have access to all lifesaving medicines."
Worldwide, millions of people who rely on ARVs would die if the proposed trade deal blocked India from producing generic medicines, said Sidibe. India supplies about 86 percent of first-line, generic HIV/AIDS drugs.
The EU is India's biggest trading partner, and the talks have hit snags over topics such as market access, child labor, and climate change. Discussions about immigration have been complicated as well, particularly for Britain. The current proposal could delay or restrict competition from generic drugs by extending patent terms.
Sidibe said he welcomed Sharma's pledge. "India, together with Brazil, South Africa, China, and Russia, must forge an alliance with other high-income countries to ensure that no single person in the world dies because they could not afford to buy lifesaving medicines or health care," Sidibe said in a statement.