India is often referred to as ‘the pharmacy of the developing world.’ More than 80% of the medicines MSF uses to treat HIV are affordable generic medicines from India, and 96% – and growing – of the HIV medicines used by major donor-funded programmes are generic medicines; the vast majority of these are from India. MSF also relies heavily on Indian generic medicines for the treatment of tuberculosis (TB), malaria and other infectious diseases.
Competition among generic medicine manufacturers in India led the price of HIV medicines to fall 99%, from US$10,000 in 2000 to around $100 a decade later. More than 14 million people living with HIV are on treatment today – this massive global treatment scale-up was made possible in large part thanks to the affordability of medicines produced by generic medicine manufacturers in India.
MSF, other treatment providers, Ministries of Health, donors and millions of people around the world look to India as their source of affordable medicines today and for the future. But this will only hold true if India maintains its intellectual property (IP) policies, including patent laws, that place people’s lives above pharmaceutical profits, in the interest of public health.