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Outrage over India decision on drugs

Health & Science


 (Photo: Courtesy)

HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria patients in Kenya are among millions globally at risk following a decision that could limit access to cheap generic drugs, including vaccines from India.

Aid agency, Medicine Sans Frontiers (MSF), has warned that the decision by the Indian Patent Office to grant US pharmaceutical corporation, Pfizer, monopoly to control market price of drugs has led to high costs that many governments in developing nations cannot afford.

MSF, which supports medical services in Kenya, explained that some of their operations locally and across the world depend on affordable generic medicines procured in India.

"It's unfair and unacceptable that almost a million children die each year from pneumonia even though a life-saving vaccine is available. Children everywhere have a right to be protected from pneumonia, but many governments can't afford the prices set by Pfizer," said Dr Prince Mathew, Asia Regional Coordinator for MSF.

Introduce competition

He added: "We urgently need additional manufacturers to rapidly introduce competition with the aim of lowering vaccine prices. Two-thirds of medicines used to treat people with HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria are generics made in India."

A number of Indian vaccine manufacturers who supply cheap vaccines and drugs to most of the developing countries like Kenya were dealt a blow after Pfizer was granted patent monopoly to control market prices of medicines until 2026.

Indian vaccine manufacturers said the patent monopoly would block other manufacturers in India from supplying cheap pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), which protects against 13 types of pneumococcal bacteria (PCV-13), to those who need it most.

Leena Menghaney, the South Asia head for MSF's Access Campaign, said they would challenge the decision.

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