Trade Deals and the threat to India’s generic drugs industry

TRIPS-compliance has already made a significant dent in India’s generic medicines industry, though our pharmaceuticals companies have learned to adapt by ramping-up their R&D investment. The upcoming mega-trade deals such as the TPP and the RCEP, however, are likely to make their life harder. This, at least, is the opinion of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), as per a report they released last month at the International AIDS Conference.

MSF calls India “the pharmacy of the developing world” — 97% of the HIV medicines used by them come from Indian generic drug companies — and they are worried that these trade deals threaten this role that India has played. The veracity of this claim was recently confirmed by Politifact, a website dedicated to “fact-checking the accuracy of claims by elected officials and others who speak up in American politics”. That Politifact found time to verify this particular claim during an election-season that has been keeping them particularly busy speaks volumes. Whether we in India — government or industry — can come up with a policy response remains to be seen.