The better 'right': Intellectual property or saving human lives?

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For poor people and health organizations, choosing a generic drug that costs only $175 a month over a brand-name version that is 32 times more expensive isn’t difficult to make. But their case is rarely front and center in the debate.

Pharmaceutical companies in India that produce generic medicine are “under attack,” say Simon Reid-Henry, lecturer at the University of London and senior fellow at the Peace Research Institute, and Hans Lofgren, editor of two upcoming volumes on pharmaceutical policy, in this opinion piece for the Guardian. For them, the culprits are:

  • The terms under the European Union’s proposed free trade agreement with India.

  • The case between the Indian government and Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis.

  • The United States arguing against the compulsory licensing Indian firm Natco Pharma won over German pharmaceutical company Bayer over the anti-cancer drug Sorafenib.

Whether it is an issue of intellectual property rights or profit, the bottom line is that patients and health organizations such as Médecins Sans Frontières stand to suffer from these assaults.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.

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