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New threat against affordable medicines in trade negotiations with India and ASEAN

According to an article by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) last month, access to affordable medicines could be severely restricted for millions of people around the world under the current proposals in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement. MSF sounded the alarm regarding the potential harmful consequences of the trade deal ahead of the next round of RCEP negotiations starting in Perth, Australia last month. According to Leena Menghaney, proposals in the RCEP negotiations are trying to introduce intellectual property measures far tougher on access to medicines than what is required under international trade rules. She is the South Asia Head of MSF’s Access Campaign.India is one of the countries included in the RCEP negotiations. India – often known as the ‘pharmacy of the developing world’ for its wide-scale production of generic medicines – supplies life-saving affordable medicines needed to treat communicable and non-communicable diseases in developing countries. An estimated two thirds of all the drugs MSF purchases to treat HIV, TB and malaria are generic medicines from India.

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