Cambodians with HIV/AIDS speak against India-EU free trade pact

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(Photo: CPN+)

Suite 101 | Nov 20, 2010

Cambodians with HIV/AIDS speak against India-EU free trade pact

By Eric Coggins

As India and European Union negotiators enter into the last round of Free Trade talks, a Cambodian HIV/AIDS coalition showed concern over pact requirements.

According to KHMERNews.com, in a press conference held Friday, November 19, 2010 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, representatives of the Cambodian People Living with HIV/AIDS Network (CPN+) called upon the government of India to not sign a proposed Free Trade pact with the European Union.

India-EU Pact Threatens Access to Low-Cost, Life-Saving Drugs

The CRN+ representatives are a coalition of Cambodians living with HIV. They chose to speak out against the proposed Free Trade pact between India and the European Union because the pact threatens to restrict access to low-cost, life-saving medicines which HIV/AIDS victims desperately need for survival.

EU Pact Requirements Call for India to Honor Intellectual Rights

Keo Chan, the CPN+ National Coordinator, was quoted as saying “the EU is pushing for India to accept intellectual property provisions which would restrict India’s production of generic medicines.” Such a restriction would include infringements upon pharmaceutical patents which could hinder the supply of affordable drugs to HIV-positive victims living in Cambodia and throughout the developing world.

India a Low-Cost Producer of Generic Drugs

According to the KHMERNews.com sources, India produced 90 percent of the AIDS medicines used in Cambodia. Moreover, India has played a prominent role in demonstrating commitment to safety and value in the production of low-cost generic drugs and has championed the right of governments to override patents in the name of public health.
India’s Production of Generic Drugs Limited by TRIPS Agreement

However, the KHMERNews.com report highlighted that in recent years, India’s generic drug production industry had been restricted more and more as a direct result of the enforcement of requirements of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement they signed in 2005. By upholding the provisions of that agreement, India found exceedingly more difficult to produce the newer more advanced HIV and other types of low cost generic drugs.

Cambodian HIV CRN+ Coalition Deeply Concerned

According to the KHMERNews.com report, even though India’s capacity to develop low-cost drugs has become increasingly limited, representatives of the Cambodian People Living with HIV/AIDS Network (CRN+) is very much alarmed by the possibility of the Indian government entering into a Free Trade Agreement with the European Union because the CRN+ group fears India will forfeit their vital role as provider of the life-saving medicines their constituency needs to stay alive. This is due to the EU negotiators advocating for higher standards of intellectual property rights and enforcement.

See People Living With Hiv Warn Proposed Free Trade Agreement Could Restrict Access To Life-Saving Medicines. Khmernews.com.

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source: Suite 101