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Big Pharma Lobbies to Punish Makers of Affordable Drugs

Industry trade group PhRMA pushing U.S. to crack down on access to drugs treating cancer, HIV

- Common Dreams staff

Indian people infected with HIV and activists hold placards and shout slogans against Swiss pharmaceutical firm Novartis during a demonstration in New Delhi, 29 January 2007. (Photo: AFP/Getty Images)Multinational pharmaceutical corporations are pressuring the U.S. government to directly block cheaper, generic varieties of life-saving drugs in India.

The Indian government is "reviewing patented drugs of foreign firms to see if so-called compulsory licenses, which in effect break exclusivity rights, can be issued for some of them to bring down costs," according to a Reuters article published Thursday, which cites two senior government officials.

The review affects up to a dozen varieties of drugs used to treat cancer, diabetes, hepatitis and HIV and signifies a move to make them more affordable.

The U.S. industry trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America is demanding the U.S. government intercede to prevent this from happening by placing India in the "worst offender" category regarding intellectual property — a move that would push the U.S. government to take an even tougher line.

"The multinational companies are exploring all options - from paring their investments in the country to forcing the U.S. to take some actions," according to a New Delhi source quoted by Reuters.

The revelation comes just weeks after Chief Executive of Bayer pharmaceutical corporation Marijn Dekkers declared, following an order from an Indian court to allow a generic drug company to sell inexpensive varieties of the cancer drug Nexavar, “We did not develop this medicine for Indians. We developed it for western patients who can afford it.”

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