With over 80 per cent of the affordable and quality antiretroviral drugs used globally to treat AIDS supplied by Indian pharmaceutical industry, India has sought flexibilities in IPR under a global trade agreement to back its endeavour of ending the deadly disease by 2030.
“We are well aware of the role that generic pharmaceutical manufacturers from India have played in initiating antiretroviral (ARV) treatment for over 17 million people by providing affordable and high quality ARV drugs. We will continue to provide this support to the global community in ending AIDS by 2030,” Minister for Health and Family Welfare J P Nadda said at a panel discussion on the sidelines of the high-level General Assembly meeting on HIV/AIDS.
He said India reminds the global community that, to continue the “important role” its generic pharmaceutical industry plays in the treatment of HIV/AIDS, flexibilities related to the World Trade Organisation Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) “need to continue”.
He stressed India’s commitment to provide comprehensive services that encompass requirements of prevention, treatment, care and support to all its citizens to achieve the goal of ending AIDS by 2030.
“We have plans to increase access to high quality ARV treatment through our public health system in collaboration with the private sector and community based organisations,” he said here yesterday.
Nadda said India will need to “front load” its investments substantially to almost double the number of people on ARV treatment in less than five years.
He also reiterated India’s commitment to work towards achieving the 90-90-90 treatment targets by 2020, an ambitious global treatment target to help end the AIDS epidemic.
As per the target, by 2020, 90 per cent of all people living with HIV will know their HIV status, 90 per cent of all people with diagnosed HIV infection will receive sustained antiretroviral therapy and a similar percentage of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy will have viral suppression.
India, which has made considerable progress over the last few years in providing ARV treatment to almost a million people, is working to ensure that it detects those infected with HIV and fast track efforts in providing treatment to men, women and children without leaving any one behind.
Nadda told the panel that it is largely because of the “pioneering efforts” of India’s pharmaceutical industry that it can even visualise putting 90 per cent of People Living with HIV (PLHIV) on treatment.
“India’s role as the pharmacy of the world is well recognised globally, and high quality affordable generics from India have saved millions of lives globally,” he said, adding that more than 80 per cent of the antiretroviral drugs used globally are supplied by the Indian pharmaceutical industry.
India’s recently adopted Intellectual Property Rights Policy states that the country will continue to utilise the legislative space and flexibilities available in international treaties and the TRIPS Agreement.
Nadda cited the HIV Sentinel Surveillance and Behaviour Surveys to state that there has been 66 per cent reduction in new infection from 2000 to 2015, and 54 per cent reduction in annual AIDS-related deaths since 2007 in India.
India is expanding testing facilities through integration with the general health system, initiating community based testing, partner testing, active engagement of private sector and engagement of allied ministries in the government.
A network of 1,600 centres across the country provide free easy and equitable access to diagnostic and treatment services to nearly a million PLHIV, the second largest ART programme globally.
“It is important not only to provide treatment but also to ensure 90 per cent of these are virologically suppressed so the further transmission of HIV can be prevented,” he said, adding that India has initiated the process to extend the viral load testing facilities across the country against only 10 labs at present.
He underlined that implementing 90:90:90 would entail almost doubling of spending on treatment.
While India has increased domestic resource allocation for HIV, Nadda said combating HIV/AIDS needs sustained commitment of resources and developed countries need to continue their support.