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Indian and international aid groups saying it would end production of cheap generic drugs and threaten the survival of cancer and AIDS patients in the developing world
Indian and international aid groups on Monday slammed a proposed overhaul of the country's patent laws, saying it would end production of cheap generic drugs and threaten the survival of cancer and AIDS patients in the developing world. India's government on Friday introduced legislation that would tighten patent laws to bring them in line with World Trade Organization rules. The bill will be debated in Parliament in the coming weeks to meet a WTO deadline of early 2005 for the changes. "The life and health of hundreds of thousands of people globally depends on decisions taken in India this week," Ellen 't Hoen of the Paris-based medical aid group Doctors Without Borders told reporters in Bombay. Hoen said some 50 percent of 700,000 HIV patients taking antiretroviral medicines in developing countries rely on Indian generic drugs, reports the Forbes. India's pharmaceutical industry is worth US$5 billion (euro3.7 billion) annually and the country is among several, including Brazil and Thailand, that make cheap generic drugs. Indian companies supply low-cost AIDS drugs to Africa, Asia and Latin America. The monthly cost of a generic AIDS drug cocktail is about US$30 (euro22), compared to US$500-US$750 (euro370-euro555) for drugs sold by European and American pharmaceutical giants. India, with 5.1 million reported cases of HIV infections, has the second-biggest number in the world after South Africa. About 40 million people worldwide are infected with the AIDS virus, and 5 million new cases are recorded annually, publishes Business Week
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