"The US government is trying to stop India making affordable medicines for the people who need them most - the poor. But when President Obama travels to India in days, we can get him to restore hope to millions of patients whose lives are at risk."
President Obama’s visit to India in days could spell life or death for millions of poor people in Asia, Africa and Latin America, but if we move fast we can ensure they can still get the medicines they need.
India produces cheap HIV, malaria and cancer drugs, but Big Pharma wants to stop this, to sell their own products at higher prices. Their fierce lobby has got the US to push their line hard, even threatening trade sanctions if India doesn’t change patent laws which put people before profits. Now pressure is rising with talks set to begin on an investment treaty.
Before Obama flies, let’s build a million-strong call to protect India’s proud role as the pharmacy to the world’s poor, make it a mega media story while he is there and then deliver it with our own common sense trade plan developed by experts that protects access to medicine.
Pharma giants say India’s patent laws allow companies to undercut them, deterring them from investing in new medicines. But drug companies prioritise researching drugs for the rich, not the poor, and they often price their products sky high -- a new hepatitis C treatment currently sells for $1000 per pill!
At a White House breakfast last October, India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi told Big Pharma CEOs to invest in affordable medicines, rather than play legal games to squeeze every drop from their existing patents. But he agreed to set up an Indo-US forum on drug patent laws, and published a draft policy with concessions to encourage American companies to invest.
President Obama boldly faced down critics to expand health care in the US, and before he flies to India, let’s make this the moment the US, Indian and other governments agree to put patients before profits.
When a giant Swiss drug company sued the Indian government over affordable medicine for cancer patients, fifty thousand Avaazers in India and Switzerland spoke out against the move, and the case was thrown out of court. Now the world’s pharmacy faces a bigger threat and it’s time to take another stand.
With hope and determination,
On behalf of Alex, Bert, Laila, Ricken, Emma, Diego and the whole Avaaz team
- Let India make cheap drugs (Business Standard)
- India-US panel: Access to medicines may be under threat (Deccan Herald)
- PM's US Visit: Narendra Modi’s CEO diplomacy to soon set the cash register ringing (Economic Times)
- Investment treaty tops Obama’s agenda (Business Standard)
- Ebola in West Africa is a wake-up call (Al Jazeera)
- Novartis loses landmark patent case in India (The Telegraph)