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India concerned FTA with EU might affect public health: paper

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

India is concerned that a free trade agreement with the European Union could jeopardize the country's pubic health, as such an agreement with EU would lead to a restriction of supply of generic medicines in the country and abroad as well, according to local media reports.

There are genuine concerns that the Free Trade Agreement, which India is finalizing with the European Union, can prove detrimental to health equity, said local daily The Tribune on Saturday.

"Supply of low cost generic medicines to patients within the country and in less developed nations should not be threatened by a treaty that may further tighten an already rigid global regime represented by the Trade Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPs)," said an editorial of the daily.

It also asked the Indian government to "take the country into confidence on the text of the India EU FTA." The article quoted Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz as saying TRIPs was designed to increase the price of medicines.

However, despite the rising cost to patients and massive revenues for pharmaceutical companies, the profits have not led to remedies for disease affected poor countries, according to the opinion piece.

"The priority for India should be to preserve existing provisions in global agreements and domestic patent law that facilitate production of generics, stop evergreening of drugs and enable compulsory licensing," it said.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made a three-day official visit to Germany this week durng which he talked with German officials the negotiations on India-EU FTA.

Philippines News agency

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/asianet/130415/india-concerned-fta-eu-might-affect-public-health-paper