Drug Cos Offer To Help Africa Via Its Students

Hyderabad, January 21: | Updated: Jan 22 2003, 05:30am hrs
The domestic pharmaceutical industry has offered to help African nations to develop capabilities there by providing financial assistance to students coming to India and training chemists at Indian laboratories.

The government is involved as co-founders in this proposal.

A delegation of representatives from departments of chemicals and petrochemicals and commerce besides those from pharmaceutical industry is visiting African nations, including South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Uganda, from January 26 to February 7. The agenda would include the unresolved issues related to intellectual property rights (IPR) at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

The offer of assistance was made when talks in Geneva in December last year broke down over the issue of compulsory licensing for countries with insufficient pharmaceutical manufacturing capabilities to import generics in the interest of public health. What was not agreeable to developing countries, including those from Africa, was USAs insistence to limit diseases for which this option could be exercised, strict safeguards to prevent diversion and exclusion of middle-income developing countries from eligibility for such imports.

Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) secretary-general DG Shah, who is a part of the delegation, said discussions would also cover possibilities of transfer of technology, setting up manufacturing plants, training of personnel and work out ways to meet the immediate requirements of medicines in those countries.

The proposal of assistance has not yet been formalised in terms of modalities and budgets. Mr Shah said this could help the nations withstand pressure from developed countries better as dependence on the latter would go down. These African nations would also be expected to open their markets to Indian generics.

Indian companies also expect investments in marketing and manufacturing in these countries to increase once they become familiar with local conditions.

The companies are also confident of achieving economies of scale in their operations.

The delegation would hold meetings with ministers and senior officials from the ministries of health, international trade and intellectual property in the visiting countries.