1 min read.Updated: 21 Sep 2019, 01:23 AM ISTLeroy Leo
The letter to the prime minister comes ahead of his visit to the US starting Sunday, where he is scheduled to meet US President Donald Trump
NEW DELHI :
A civil society group has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to reject any proposal by the US to negotiate a free trade agreement between the two countries as it could hurt access to affordable healthcare in India.
The letter to the prime minister comes ahead of his visit to the US starting Sunday, where he is scheduled to meet US President Donald Trump.
“We have learned that there is a proposal to conclude a trade deal as well as eventual initiation of negotiations on Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US, raising serious concerns on issues regarding access to medicines and medical devices," the Third World Network said in its letter.
The group also said it is aware that the US has requested the Indian government to carry out specific amendments to the Indian Patents Act, adding that both the move would “threaten India’s public health friendly patent laws" and weigh on the government’s ability to provide affordable and quality healthcare services to the citizens.
“This is a matter of grave concern. Millions of people in India, state governments and the Ministry of Health rely on domestically produced affordable generic medicines, devices and vaccines to prevent and treat communicable and non-communicable diseases," the group said in its letter, which has been endorsed by 36 people and entities, including All India Drug Action Network, Global Coalition of TB Activists and Cancer Patient Aid Association.
Third World Network has also urged the government to actively protect and diplomatically defend its policy of price caps on medicines and medical devices.
According to reports, India and US may ink a ‘mini-deal’ for trade between the two countries when Modi and Trump meet.