IMPHAL, Feb 26: Representatives of PLHIV Networks, Network of People who use Drugs and health activists from across India are holding a protest against the India-EU Free Trade Agreement at New Delhi on March 2. Patient groups and civil society representatives from other countries, including Nepal, Indonesia, Thailand and Philippines are also coming to India to seek meetings with the Indian government to express their concerns. The rally will starts from Ramlila Ground at 10 am and concludes at Jantar Mantar and is being held by health groups to voice their concerns against this FTA.
The protest is directed against the stronger intellectual property provisions being demanded by the European Commission in the India-EU Free Trade Agreement, which may hamper access to cheap, life-saving, quality medicines for patients not just in India but many other developing countries around the world.
The groups are demanding that the following provisions be removed from the negotiations which included the data exclusivity, as it will not permit the placing of affordable versions of new formulations like pediatric doses of “off-patent” medicines on the market by the Indian Drug Controller. And also removal of investment rules, as it will enable foreign companies to take Indian government to private courts over domestic health policies like tobacco warnings and measures to reduce prices of medicines, Border measures, as it will deny medicines to patients in other developing countries with custom officials seizing generic medicines in transit, Injunction, as it undermines the independence of the Indian judiciary to protect right to health of patients over pharma profits, Other IP enforcement measures, as it put third parties like treatment providers at risk of police actions and court cases.
The next round of negotiations between India and European Commission will take place during March and April in Brussels. The EU-lndia FTA negotiations are set to be concluded by spring 2011. The protest will be followed by a Press Conference at Foreign Correspondent Club from 2pm onwards where in Anand Graver, UN Special Rapporteur on Health will address the media and share his concerns about the grave danger this FTA may bring to the countless human lives in developing countries by drying up the source of good and affordable medicines. The other panellists will include representatives from International Treatment Preparedness Coalition, Oxfam India, Asia Pacific Network of Positive People, Care Foundation, Social Awareness Services Organisation (SASO) and Manipur Network of Positive People (MNP+).
In solidarity, the International Treatment Preparedness Coalition, Asia Pacific Network of Positive People, Asian Network of People who Use Drugs (ANPUD), World Vision, Lawyer`s collective, Oxfam India and Medicine Sans Frontiers – Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines are calling for a global day of action against the EU-lndia FTA on 2 March 2011.