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Indian generic drugs ideal for Africa, suggests Anand Sharma

10 March 2014

India's pharmaceutical technology is appropriate for Africa, India's commerce minister Anand Sharma stressed at a function in Mumbai on Sunday, and added that India is committed to making available newer generation life-saving drugs to developing countries.

Inaugurating the 10th CII-Exim Bank conclave on India-Africa Project Partnership on Sunday evening, Sharma said, "Eighty-seven developing countries - their entire health care system is supported by Indian medicines, and we're committed to ensure that even the new generation of life-saving drugs that the Indian pharmaceutical industry will make are available to our people and people of developing countries."

Describing India as a leader in the production of finished generics, Sharma told the gathering, which included ministers from several African countries, that the arrival of Indian generic drugs has changed the global discourse on anti-retrovirals (ARVs) for the treatment of HIV-AIDS rampant in Africa.

He pointed out how ARV costs have been brought down from $1,900 to $1,100 to treatment cost levels of a dollar a day.

"India has become the pharmacy of the world. We're the largest maker of finished generics and our biggest exports are to the US. And in the US, after the US pharma companies, the second largest FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approvals are with the Indian pharma companies," Sharma said.

This comes in the context of US pressures on India to increase its intellectual property rights (IPR) protection beyond the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement under the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

 The US International Trade Commission (USITC) has initiated a probe against India's domestic trade and investment policies, particularly intellectual property, or patent laws.

At a US Trade Representative (USTR) hearing on 24 February, several US-based organisations recommended that India be designated as a priority foreign country, alleging it lacked adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights.

India's patent laws include provisions to ensure that intellectual property rights do not hinder the government taking measures for promoting public health. This include making life saving medicines available at affordable rates.

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