EU-India agreement may prevent the production of generic, affordable antiretroviral treatment.
Through his commitment as a social worker, Sarwat has come into contact with HIV-infected people, and discovered the nature of their daily struggle. HIV systematically attacks the immune system of its patients, who have to follow a daily anti-retroviral treatment (ART). As testified in the video, this treatment was originally extremely costly – US$10,000-15,000 per person per year – and thus out of reach of the majority of HIV-infected people, particularly in developing countries like India.
But in the late 1990’s, an Indian pharmaceutical company started producing generic antiretrovirals that were exactly the same as those made by large pharmaceutical companies, but significantly cheaper. This brought a tremendous change in the lives of HIV-infected people, who were ultimately able to afford proper treatment that would allow them leading decent, longer lives, free of pain.
However, the free trade agreement recently negotiated by India and the European Union, constitutes a severe threat against this system. Indeed, under this agreement, India may adopt new intellectual property provisions, that would considerably restrict its production of generic medicines.
This video is precious testimony of how international politics ultimately impact lives around the globe. Community media is a space where voices that are usually kept unheard are given space. Here, Sarwat introduces us to Mukesh Nayar. An HIV-infected person, he is primarily a committed activist, as the president of the HIV-positive people organization in Chhattisgarh. He recounts in detail how the treatment impacts his life, and what the political agreement means to him. Ultimately, it would mean restricted or impossible access to treatment, that is likely to be beyond his financial means.
Mukesh Nayar is not an isolated case. As pointed out by Doctors without Borders, that has launched an international campaign against this agreement, 99% of generic medicines distributed by international NGOs all over the world are produced in India. Doctors without Borders launched a campaign called “Europe! Hands Off Our Medicine” encouraging people around the world to write to the instigators of the agreement. To support the campaign go to https://action.msf.org