RECENTLY a section of the media published reports claiming that the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) under negotiation between India and the European Union on generic drugs will jeopardise production of generic medicines, including ARVs, and hence put to risk lives of millions of HIV patients, especially in poor countries.

It is regrettable that these reports were published as these claims are based on misunderstanding of the EU's objectives and negotiation position.

The EU is fully aware that India is an important provider of generic medicines to other developing countries; the Free Trade Agreement currently under negotiations between India and EU is certainly not intended to restrict the ability of India to continue doing the same for domestic and international consumption. It is the EU which has proposed a clause in the negotiations to ensure that nothing in the proposed Agreement would limit India's freedom to produce and export medicines to other developing countries in accordance with the Trade Related Intellectual Property Right (TRIPS) Agreement and the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, notably through compulsory licensing. Moreover, the EU has proposed a provision stating that "nothing in this Agreement shall be construed as to impair the capacity of the parties to promote access to medicines".

With regards to the Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA), it should be noted that the Agreement was meant to tackle products infringing intellectual property rights not generic pharmaceuticals. Serious consideration and great caution was exercised to ensure that the proposed measures do not target medicines either directly or indirectly. It is not EU's intention to use enforcement measures (be it at the border; in civil or criminal proceedings) to hinder the legitimate trade in generic medicines.

It is the EU's commitment to ensure access to medicines as an essential pillar of its policy on intellectual property. The EU would like to assure you that all these concerns were taken into account in the negotiations between the EU and India.

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