India supplying over 80% of drugs to combat AIDS: Nadda

Over 80 per cent of the drugs used globally to combat the deadly AIDS virus are supplied by Indian pharmaceutical firms, and the low-cost generic medicines have helped scale up access to HIV treatment across developing countries, the UN was told on Wednesday.

Addressing the high-level General Assembly meeting on HIV/AIDS, minister for health and family welfare J P Nadda said that India had faced the "spectre of disastrous consequences" from the AIDS epidemic 15 years back but was able to manage the challenge.

The country today is significantly contributing in the global fight against AIDS as more than 80 per cent of the antiretroviral drugs used globally are supplied by the Indian pharmaceutical industry, he said.

The UN General Assembly adopted a new political declaration that emphasised on the critical importance of affordable medicines to combat the scourge of HIV/AIDS.

The minister also underlined that the international community cannot afford a rebound of the AIDS epidemic and that developed countries should do more and enhance their commitments to fight the worldwide scourge.

"Targeted interventions based on close collaboration with the governments and the empowerment of communities and civil society with appropriate funding from the government have helped deliver key life saving services to the affected population," Nadda said in his address to the 193-member Assembly in New York.

Deaths due to AIDS in India have been reduced by nearly 55 per cent since 2007, while new HIV infections saw a reduction by 66 per cent since 2000.

Around a million people affected by AIDS are currently on antiretroviral therapy.

"These remarkable successes would not have been possible without access to affordable medicines. The low cost generic medicines produced by the Indian pharmaceutical industry have been instrumental in scaling up access to HIV treatment not only in India but in other parts of the world, especially in the developing countries most affected by this scourge," Nadda said.

He added that the "accessibility and affordability" of drugs has helped save millions of lives around the world.

Outlining ways in which the international community can act together over the next five years to fight HIV/AIDS, Nadda stressed on need to ensure access to affordable medicines and commodity security.

He said India is committed to maintain the World Trade Organisation Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) flexibilities.

"We reiterated this commitment last year during the Third India-Africa Summit, responding to the call from our brothers and sisters in Africa," he said.

Nadda said India is proud of being one of the leading partners in the global fight against AIDS epidemic and is collaborating actively with a range of partner countries and other stakeholders including the UNAIDS,the joint UN programme on HIV/AIDS.