Doctors Without Borders (MSF) warns that the free trade agreement negotiations between the EU and India will make it more difficult for poorer countries to access generic drugs. There is a risk that Indian manufacturers will only be allowed to copy original medicines from pharmaceutical companies in the EU after a longer period than is currently the case, said MSF expert for access to medicines, Melissa Scharwey, of the German Press Agency. This danger opens up due to a published draft of the free trade agreement, she said.
When asked, the EU Commission stated that the EU’s free trade agreements did not prevent the delivery of medicines. If the EU and its trading partners opened their markets to each other, intellectual property rules would have to be fair, balanced and transparent. This includes regulations for the pharmaceutical sector, which are necessary so that there are incentives for innovation.
India is known as the pharmacy of the world and produces many medicines inexpensively, especially for poorer countries. Doctors Without Borders and other humanitarian organizations mostly buy medicines for poorer countries from there, such as HIV medicines.
It can only be reproduced after 20 years or even later
According to Scharwey, patent protection for original medicines is currently valid for 20 years in accordance with the international provisions of the World Trade Organization (WTO). According to the draft, pharmaceutical companies from the EU could apply for an extension of this patent protection in India by several years, according to the expert. As a result, generic companies could later produce these drugs cheaply. According to the EU Commission, the EU’s free trade agreements do not change existing WTO obligations on intellectual property rights.
In addition, Doctors Without Borders criticizes that the EU requires the draft that generic drug companies have to carry out new drug tests before copying original drugs – like the original manufacturers did back then. This would make access to generic drugs even more difficult in poor countries.
For years, the EU and India have been trying to agree on a free trade agreement. There were negotiations from 2007 to 2013. At that time, however, the talks failed. One hurdle was the pharmaceutical issue. Negotiations resumed last year. (dpa)
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