India asks Africa to Keep Doors Open to Generic Drug Imports

Posted May 11, 2009 from Kenya

Addis Ababa (IANS): India has urged African countries not to put barriers on the production and import of generic drugs to the continent, especially in the current economic slowdown, which could adversely affect the purchasing power of patients.

"For the sake of their own people, Africa should not allow the ratification of banning generic medicine products," Rajeev Kher, joint secretary in India's Ministry of Commerce and Industry, told IANS on the sidelines of a four-day conference of African ministers for health here.

He said that the Indian delegation was here to sensitise the African health ministers about generic drugs that are equally effective and the need not to pass anti-generic drugs laws.

The Indian pharmaceutical industry is among the world's largest and most developed in terms of production and consumption.

The official said Kenya had already ratified the anti-generic drug law that will force the people of Kenya to buy drugs that are 10 times as expensive, but not more effective.

Giving an example of the difference in prices, Kher said that if an anti-cancer drug manufactured by western pharma companies cost about Rs 1,40,000, it would cost just Rs 5,000 in its generic form.

Mr. Kher was referring to Kenya's anti-counterfeit law passed last month, according to which generic drugs exported from any country, which is patented anywhere else in the world, can be classified as counterfeit — if there is objection raised by the patent holder.

The Indian commerce ministry official said that other African countries like Uganda and Zambia are being pressurised by the big multinational pharmaceutical companies to adopt similar legislation to impede exports of generic drugs.

According to the Indian delegation, almost 50 per cent of the medicines in the African market are generic.

The issue of generic drugs touches the heart of the HIV/AID programme, which has ravaged several African nations.

An estimated 33 million people globally have the HIV virus and 25 million of them live in Africa and other developing countries. Out of these 25 million, over 3 million regularly use Indian manufactured anti-retrovirals.

Most Africans with HIV have no access to treatment, though some countries are running successful HIV/AIDS programmes. About three million people in African countries with HIV/AIDS are on anti-retroviral drugs.

But if there are restrictions on the use of generic drugs, people with HIV will not be able to use medicines, whose prices will shoot up to over $2,000.

Currently, South Africa is the only African country that makes its own HIV/AIDS drugs.

The African health ministers' meeting, organised by the African Union, tackled issues like Africa's preparedness to face Influenza AH1N1, millennium development goals, financing of the health sector in Africa and child and maternal mortality.


Comments 4

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Susan Monahan
Jun 24, 2009
Jun 24, 2009

I am Susan Monahan from Kingston, Ontario in Canada. I am glad I have you as a friend. You seem to be a very strong person even with everything going on over there - you just keep going. I'm sorry you have so much pain in your feet at night but if they can get more ARV's into your village that will be a big help.

I'm married with 2 boys, 22 and 20. My biggest desire is to travel, and to countries like Africa, Thailand, places like those. I love helping people -- with me people come first before myself. I am not an outgoing person. I am a shy person. It would be great some day to meet half way. It would really be fantastic to meet you, so that means you hurry up and get better!! LOL (LOL means - lots of laughs)

Jun 27, 2009
Jun 27, 2009

I was recently in Toronto,and can't wait for any opportunity that would land me back there! Oh we shouls have already met! Yes-i would love to meet you soon.

Love, Leah Auma.

Jun 24, 2009
Jun 24, 2009


Pharmaceutical companies dictating life and death for millions... Do you see any production happening soon in other African nations beside So. Africa? Is the production in So Africa distributed to other nations nearby? Are you witnessing any effective protests to the possibility of a ban on generics?

Keep us posted, okay?

Warm wishes to you. Laura

Jun 27, 2009
Jun 27, 2009

It would be tragic to do all this in the case of a killer disease whose cure has not been found! I am all ears and will keep you posted!

Best regards,