Humanitarian group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) yesterday criticised draft provisions of a free-trade deal between the European Union and India, saying it would boost prices of drugs for India's poor.
The EU and India are in talks on a free trade agreement that they hope could be completed in October.
MSF said prices of medicines in India would go up because the bilateral deal would tighten the protection of intellectual property rights of drug-makers and require the manufacturers of generic drugs to make their own drug tests instead of relying on data from the original pharmaceutical firms.
"The reason that we are concerned is that we saw on Friday the latest version of this agreement. And it still contains these provisions," said Michelle Childs, director of policy and advocacy for the MSF campaign for access to essential medicines.
"They continually repeat that they are not seeking to have an effect on access to medicines but their actions do not match their words," she said of the European Commission, the European Union's executive arm, which conducts the negotiations. She also said civil society organisations should be involved in the talks, now conducted behind closed doors.
But EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht said the EU had agreed to make changes to the deal and that developing countries had the right to access essential medicines. "The European Commission is going to take care that there are no hindrances for access to essential medicines for people from a developing country," he said.