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India Passes New Patent Law: Price of AIDS Drugs Expected to Soar

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April 7, 2005

India Passes New Patent Law: Price of AIDS Drugs Expected to Soar

by Sandy Hager

India's government passed a controversial patent law last week making it illegal for domestic firms to produce cheap generic copies of AIDS drugs developed by multinational pharmaceutical firms.

As a New York Times report suggests, the law has the potential to cut the supply of cheap generic AIDS drugs to millions in the developing world who rely on India as a supplier.

The patent law changes result from the nation's membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and India's commitments to the WTO's TRIPs agreement (Trade Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights). The TRIPs agreement obliges members to change their national patent rules in order to comply with the WTO standards.

An editorial in Nairobi's Nation blasts the TRIPs agreement, claiming that it hinders Africa's socioeconomic development and serves as a tool for multinational firms from the industrialized countries to "continue to reap huge profits."

It has been suggested by Nation that the cost of AIDS drugs in Kenya is likely to soar due to the new Indian patent laws. Currently, Kenyans pay approximately $20 US for generic drugs from India, while the cost of the patented versions from multinational pharmaceutical firms cost around $395 US.

The Nation (Nairobi):WTO Policy a Blow to Anti-Aids Drive

Business Week:Groups Slam Indian Passage of Patent Law

New York Times:India Tightens Law, Alarming Advocates for AIDS Patients

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