Friday, June 15, 2007

Help keep lifesaving medicines affordable

Help keep lifesaving medicines affordable.

Tell Novartis: Drop the Case!

For millions of poor people throughout the world, generic drugs manufactured in India are a lifeline. In AIDS-wracked countries like Lesotho and Zimbabwe, more than 90 percent of lifesaving antiretroviral drugs are imported from India.

The pharmaceutical company Novartis is suing the Indian government to change a section of the country’s patent law that safeguards public health. If Novartis wins this case, the production of Indian generic drugs could be cut back – and millions of people around the world could lose access to the medicine they need to survive.

Join us in telling Novartis that people are more important than patents! Add your name to the petition below asking Novartis to drop the case.

Dear Dr. Vasella:

As a supporter of CARE and an advocate for the world's poor, I urge you to drop your lawsuit challenging the public health safeguard in Section 3(d) of India's patent law.

Novartis' action could constrain poor people's access to essential drugs, not only in India but also worldwide. In most developing countries, access to Indian generic drugs is a lifeline for people who cannot afford innovator dugs. In fact, the ability of the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to dramatically increase the numbers of people on AIDS treatment has been made possible partly by Indian generics.

The TRIPS Agreement and the Doha Declaration provide flexibility for developing countries to balance patent protection with public health imperatives. I urge you to respect the public health safeguards in India's patent law.

What's At Stake?
Help keep lifesaving medicines affordable
Poor health and poverty go hand-in-hand. Often, lifesaving drugs are widely available, but priced out of reach of the people who need them most. While this inequity cannot be solved through the production of generic drugs alone, generic competition has been critical in expanding access and saving lives in the face of the devastating AIDS pandemic.

In the 1990s, before pharmaceutical companies made major price reductions and generic antiretroviral drugs, or ARVs, were accessible in developing countries, HIV meant a rapid decline in health and certain death. Indian-made generic alternatives sold at a fraction of the price of brand-name drugs have been key to making lifesaving AIDS treatment a reality for more than 2 million people.

In fact, Indian generic drugs have enabled the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to rapidly expand access to AIDS treatment. Purchase of generic drugs has led to cost savings that enable PEPFAR to provide additional ARVs to thousands more people.

International trade and patent rules provide developing countries the flexibility to balance patent protection with public health imperatives. The government of India has used this flexibility to define what is “patentable” in India: Innovative drugs are issued a patent, and those that reflect minor changes to an existing drug are not.

After its patent application for Glivec, a cancer drug, was rejected for not meeting the standard of innovation required, Novartis filed a lawsuit challenging Section 3(d) of India’s Patents Act, which defines what is patentable. If Novartis wins this lawsuit, incremental changes to existing drugs would be patentable and thus fewer drugs could be generically produced. Ultimately, this could jeopardize access to vital medications for millions of people.

Two-thirds of generic drugs manufactured in India are exported to other developing countries. In the context of the global AIDS crisis, the Novartis lawsuit threatens to reverse impressive treatment gains at a critical time. More than 5 million people who urgently need ARVs still do not have access to them. We cannot allow anything to impede the global effort to achieve universal access to treatment by 2010.

CARE urges Novartis to drop its Section 3(d) lawsuit in India and pursue solutions that do not have potentially grave consequences for the lives of poor people. We call upon our supporters and friends to ask the same of Novartis. Click here to add your name and ask Novartis to drop the case.

Take Action on this Issue
Send this message to:
Dr. Daniel Vasella

Lincoln Oviedo
90 stayman turn ct
Linden VA 22642

I know that Novartis strives to be a socially responsible company. I call on you to demonstrate such responsibility in India. Lives are at stake - please drop the case!

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