Europe is the driving force behind trade policies that risk blocking access to many life-saving, affordable medicines for patients in developing countries. Help Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières on World AIDS Day to tell Europe to get its HANDS OFF our medicine!
“Millions of people in developing countries rely on affordable generic medicines to stay alive. More than 80% of the medicines used by Doctors Without Borders to treat AIDS across the developing world are produced in India. But the European Commission is now shutting off the tap of affordable medicines by attacking the production, registration, transportation and exportation of generic medicines. People who need these will be left without a lifeline.”
Millions of people in developing countries have to rely on affordable generic medicines produced in countries like India to stay alive. But the European Commission has been pushing aggressive policies that will severely restrict these life-saving medicines.
The attack is taking a number of different forms, including free trade agreements, international treaties, customs regulations. If Europe succeeds, millions of people across the developing world could see their source of affordable medicines dry up, because generic companies will no longer have the space to produce or sell them.
“What the Europeans are doing is effectively snatching the medicines out of our hands,” said Dr. Marius Müller, MSF’s Medical Coordinator in Kenya. “Because generic medicines are more affordable, we have been able to put more and more patients on AIDS medicines. This has meant a lot of hope for our patients who can work again, who can bring up their children again. But if Europe has its way and shuts off this source, we risk killing the success of what has been achieved here in the last five years.”
India: Pharmacy of the Developing World
When a drug company holds a patent on a medicine, it can prevent other companies from producing or selling the drug in a country for the duration of the patent’s term. This allows the company to charge high prices in countries where it holds patents because there are no competitors in the market, and drugs remain unaffordable.
Until recently, India did not grant patents on medicines, so local companies could produce drugs identical in quality to the original product, but at heavily reduced prices. As a result, these generic drugs manufactured in India are among the most affordable in the world – and this dynamic is saving lives!
More than 80% of the medicines MSF uses to treat its more than 160,000 patients receiving AIDS treatment come from generic producers in India. The proportion of AIDS medicines produced by Indian manufacturers is up to 90% in certain important medical needs such as medicines to treat HIV in children.