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Sep 03 2009

India refuses HIV drug patents

This is great news.

India has rejected applications from two US companies for patents on two key AIDS drugs in a move that could mean more people in poor countries will have access to life-saving medicines.

The decisions are the latest in a string of legal victories for Cipla, India’s largest generic drug maker. The move could also signal that patent offices in emerging economies are set to take a tougher line than industrialized countries on which drugs deserve patents.

Gilead, the manufacturer of Tenofovir, and Tibotec, manufacturer of Darunavir, were both trying to get patents on their respective drugs, and seeing that they were about to lose the court battles, tried to offer a raw deal to Cipla, the generic manufacturer that was making the drugs for distribution in poor countries — that deal being, a 5% cut, and could only sell to 95 of the poorest countries. Both of these restrictions would have limited exactly what kinds of discounts they could offer.

Frankly, patents on drugs that combat scourges like AIDS should be refused. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that patents on drugs should be outright banned.

I’m sure someone will say “but where will the funding come from for research of these products if not the free market?” As if the free market is some kind of panacea. I don’t hold the solution, but wrapping up knowledge about things like drugs that could save countless lives, just so you can make a bit of profit, is bloody criminal. In fact, any attempt to make profit off of health care is disgusting and immoral, if you ask me.

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