The RSIS Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies' Blog


Issues on the prevalence of global AIDS – Part 1: Impact of low-cost generic HIV/AIDS drugs from India

Posted in Health and Human Security by NTSblog on November 8, 2010
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The AIDS Society of India announced that low cost HIV/AIDS drugs would be made available in the country by the end of October. It stated that the new drugs would be launched at the 3rd National Conference of AIDS Society of India (ASICON 2010) which was held in Hyderabad from 29-31 October.

India is the largest supplier of generic anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs) to low- and middle- income countries, providing 80 % of donor-funded ARVs to low and middle income countries. The availability of cheap Indian generic ARVs is due to the laws in India which used to grant patents on processes rather than products, enabling firms to produce cheaper drugs using other methods. However, India signed the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement under the World Trade Organization in 2005 which means that it now has to grant patents on products as well as processes for drugs patented after the signing of the agreement.

The availability of cheap generic drugs from India is vital for many in developing countries who simply cannot afford high-cost ARVs. It is important that countries, such as India, work with its trade partners, international organisations, donors, civil society groups and pharmaceutical producers of cheap ARVs to guarantee that there remains enough policy space to continue its role as a provider of low-priced generic medicines. Countries and various entities have to find ways to negotiate between existing intellectual property rights and the desired result of producing low-cost ARVs and also how to encourage pharmaceutical firms to do so. Lowering the costs of ARVs is one of the factors that could help increase the proportion of populations with advanced HIV infection with access to antiretroviral drugs.

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