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India, US work out generic drug distribution

India is among the four countries that have struck a deal with the US on the sale of lifesaving generic drugs to poor countries.

business Updated: Sep 06, 2003 13:31 IST

India is among the four countries that have struck a deal with the US on the sale of lifesaving generic drugs to poor countries.

In exchange, New Delhi, along with Brazil, Kenya and South Africa, has promised to protect the patents of American drug manufacturing giants.

Though the agreement is yet to be approved by the 146-member World Trade Organisation (WTO) and some countries are objecting to the terms of the agreement, this is considered a milestone in the fight against the scourge of HIV and AIDS which are major killers in Kenya and South Africa.

India and Brazil are among major generic drug producers and could sell low-cost generic AIDS drugs to the countries threatened by epidemics, press reports say.

Some American pharmaceutical companies have rigorously opposed such concessions because of fears that the low-cost drugs might take over the North American and European markets losing them billions in sales.

But on the eve of the upcoming September WTO meeting in Cancun, Mexico, a draft agreement seems to have been hammered out. However, the US Commerce Department has not given any statements relating to it.

The four developing countries evidently gave acceptable assurances about protecting the intellectual property rights of US drug manufacturers, but no details about the conditions agreed to have been made public so far.

To date the strong pharmaceutical lobby in Washington had prevented the US administration from giving way to any such agreement.

First Published: Aug 28, 2003 14:24 IST