Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) cautiously welcomes the official statement by the Indian Commerce & Industry Minister Shri Anand Sharma against the introduction of ‘data exclusivity’ in India, given the harmful effect it would have on access to affordable medicines produced in India.
This statement comes at a critical time, as negotiations on the EU-India free trade agreement (FTA) resume in Brussels next week. Data exclusivity is one of the harmful provisions the EU has been persistently pressuring India to accept.
We support India in standing strong in the face of constant pressure from the EU Commission on data exclusivity,” said Leena Menghaney, Manager of MSF’s Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines in India. “We urge Minister Sharma to stick to this position for this and for future free trade agreements that India will negotiate, like the one under discussion now with the European Free Trade Association countries of Switzerland, Iceland, Norway and Lichtenstein.”
Data exclusivity is one of the damaging clauses in the draft FTA that threatens access to medicines. It goes beyond India’s obligations under international trade rules and would effectively block registration of low-cost generic medicines, including those that do not deserve patent protection under India’s law. For example, it could prevent the production of generic versions of a new drug formulation for children, even if the drug itself is not patented.
“This is a welcome statement from Minister Sharma, but it is too early to celebrate, because the EU has not made clear yet that they will stop pushing data exclusivity in the free trade negotiations,” said Michelle Childs, Director of Policy/Advocacy at MSF’s Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines. “The EU should officially confirm that they will drop their demands for data exclusivity in the EU-India FTA before negotiations continue next week in Brussels.”
While this public stance from India is encouraging, MSF warns that ongoing negotiations still need to be closely monitored to ensure that this and other provisions harmful to access to affordable medicines are not included in the final agreement.
To read the official statement by the Indian Commerce & Industry Minister Shri Anand Sharma, click here