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Indian pharma industry upbeat on WTO drug deal

Hailing the World Trade Organisation (WTO) drug deal as a positive development, the Indian pharmaceutical industry has said it will enable smaller and poorer nations to make full use of the flexibility in the WTO intellectual property rules in order to deal with diseases that ravage their population.

The WTO yesterday had approved a deal to let the poorer nations import cheaper generic drugs to fight killer diseases like AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis. //

The drug accord will plug a gap in the world trade law and allow poorer countries, unable to manufacture medicines domestically, to override international patents and import cheap generic drugs when required.

''The WTO drug deal is an historic agreement. Now people from the smaller and poor nations will get access to cheaper generic drugs and that too without any pre-conditions,'' a spokesman from domestic pharma major Ranbaxy Labs told UNI here.

Terming it as a positive development, he said the pact will benefit both the needy nations and the producers of such drugs. Sanat Products Ltd CEO Manoj Pahwa described it a gain for India.

''Besides benefitting us, the WTO deal will give India an edge over other developing countries in view of the cheaper production cost here,'' he added.

Mr Pahwa said the deal had put the focus back on the neediest and that is significantly important.

Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance Secretary General D G Shah said although the deal has been sealed, it is riddled with barriers which will make generic drugs more expensive.

''It appears poorer nations have accepted the conditions of the United States out of anxiety to reach a solution to their health problems,'' he added.

Other companies were more positive, however, noting that their worst fears that Indian firms might be excluded from this trade, had been allayed.

''I see it as a fairly balanced deal which does pro vide flexibility to the developing countries -- even flexibility to countries that aren't necessarily the poorest -- to address serious public health problems.

''It is really good news from the humanitarian point of view as it will serve a world of difference so far as treating dreaded diseases are concerned,'' observed Hyderabad-based Dr Reddy's Labs spokesman.

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