Press Release- Campaign for Affordable Trastuzumab


The Department of Pharmaceuticals, Ministry of Commerce has just released a report by a committee set up to examine the issue of price negotiations for patented drugs.  Comments are being invited from stakeholders.

 

The Campaign for Access to Affordable Trastuzumab is shocked that the Department of Pharmaceuticals is even considering the option of negotiating with multinational pharma companies for price discounts.

We note with concern that this report comes at a time when the Ministry of Health is actively exploring options such as compulsory licensing for bringing down prices of life-saving patented drugs through allowing market competition by generics and biosimilars. Trastuzumab is one of the drugs being considered for compulsory licensing.

This ill-timed move by the Department of Pharmaceuticals will benefit none other than big pharma companies whose patents on life-saving drugs are the main barrier in access to health for millions of Indians.

Global experience shows clearly that measures such as negotiated price reductions and “managed competition” through voluntary licenses (which usually incorporate stringent conditions to protect the interests of the originator company) do not result in any significant expansion of access, since prices continue to remain beyond the reach of most citizens.

A case in point is Brazil, which tried to use price negotiations with multi-national pharmaceutical companies to bring down the price of patented HIV drugs. As a result, the price of Efiverenz (Merck) came down to  USD760 per person per year in 2003.  In contrast, when Efiverenz was brought under compulsory license in 2007, the price came down to USD170 per person per year – less than one fourth the negotiated price.

 

Similarly, a World Bank supported process of negotiated price decreases in Central America and the Caribbean in 2002 brought prices of HIV drugs down to USD 1100-1600 per patient per year. In contrast, 10 Latin American countries independently adopted an open competition-based model involving both generic manufacturers and originator companies, resulting in prices coming down from USD 5000 to USD 400 per patient per year.

 

The Government of Thailand, which began issuing compulsory licences in 2007, considered and dropped the option of negotiated price reductions, noting that “Prior negotiation with the patent holders is not an effective measure and only delays the improvement in access to
patented essential medicines and puts more lives in less healthy or
even dangerous situations.”

 

India plays a key role as a supplier of affordable medicines to other countries in the global south. Unlike negotiated prices, which apart from being unacceptably high would apply only in India, compulsory licensing of a drug like Trastuzumab would benefit millions of people across the developing world through global marketing of cheap generic versions.

 

The Campaign for Affordable Trastuzumab urges the Government of India to follow through on the strong political will it has shown by initiating the process of compulsory licensing for Trastuzumab. With 25,000 new cases of HER2+ breast cancer being recorded every year with most patients being young women, there is no time to waste. We look forward to a speedy notification and an accelerated process to bring biosimilars of Trastuzumab into the market.

 

We call on our policy-makers to ensure that big pharma companies do not continue to hold our health hostage to their greed for profits.

For further information, contact <kmenonsen@gmail.com> and <shailly.gupta@gmail.com>

 

#Mumbai- Gay man faces cops’ chin music #homophobia


Published: Monday, Feb 25, 2013, 10:30 IST
Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
 

 

In a shocking homophobic act, a youth was set upon and his chin broken at Vasai Road railway station around midnight on Friday. When DNA visited the victim at Cardinal Gracias hospital, he was still in shock.

Having worked till late in office, the 28-year-old pharma company technician took a train around 10.45pm from Dadar and reached Vasai Road an hour later. “What happened in the next two hours will haunt me all my life. It keeps flashing in front of me whenever I shut my eyes,” he wept.

Once at the station, he went to the washroom on platform 2 to relieve himself. He was then confronted by two men. “They began raining blows at me and shouted: ‘Homogiri karne toilet mein aata hai aur abhi sharif banta hai’, (You indulge in homosexual acts in the toilet and now you are trying to be decent). They pinned me down near the bridge and hit my head so badly that there was blood all over from the chin.”

Meanwhile, a GRP constable spoke to the victim’s attackers. “After some nods and pleasantries with them, he left.”

The victim’s phone, wallet and laptop were snatched away by them. They then said that they would tell his parents that he was gay. When he told told them that his family already knew, they were infuriated and the beating intensified. “I was told they’d let me go if I paid them Rs25,000. I was then taken to the SBI ATM outside the station,” he recounts.

“Once I paid them, they returned my laptop and cell phone. While putting me on an auto, one of them put his arm around my shoulder and said sorry.”

Incidentally, the guard at the ATM, Prakash Ghagre, confirmed toDNA on Sunday saying, “Some policemen had brought a man along. They said he’d been attacked and robbed and so they got him there.”

The victim’s father was given a written complaint but the GRP has made only a station diary entry of “assault by unknown persons”. The station in-charge, S Kshirsagar, said, “We need more time to investigate before saying anything.”

Meanwhile, gay rights activist Ashok Row Kavi promised legal help for the victim through the Hamsafar Trust. “The railway police commissioner or a senior officer appointed by him should do the enquiry,” Kavi told DNA.

@powerofyogesh

 

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