FLOWERS: U.S. punishes India for placing public health before corporate profits

May 2, 2013

Statement of Green Shadow Cabinet Secretary of Health, Dr. Margaret Flowers:

The U.S. Trade Report released yesterday continues to hold India in Priority Watch Status because India is not caving in to pressure from pharmaceutical corporations who want to sell high-priced patented medications in India. For the past decade, India has taken the lead in producing low-cost generic medications to meet important areas of need such as the treatment of infectious diseases. India also has a strict approval process for patented medications such that new pharmaceuticals must actually prove that they are more effective than current drugs before being approved.

India's actions mean that the people of India and their neighbors are able to afford life-saving medicines, but US pharmaceutical corporations are in an uproar because of barriers to making profit in India. The USTR also criticizes India for giving preferential treatment to local industries over international corporations. The report criticizes nations for not engaging in good faith negotiations with the U.S., but the Obama Administration is notorious for pressuring other nations to go against their own interests so that multinational corporations can profit.

Nations like India should not be punished for putting the needs of their populations first. And profit should not be made at the cost of suffering and preventable death. The development of more generic medicines and sharing of research that can improve or save lives rather than holding on to it as 'trade secrets' should be encouraged.

On another note, the USTR report states: "The United States also shares the objective of continued improvement in the health and quality of life of its citizens, and the objective of delivering care in the most efficient and responsive way possible." If this were really true, the Obama Administration would have expanded traditional Medicare to all U.S. residents so that nobody in the U.S. goes without care instead of continuing to protect the profits of the medical-industrial complex. This recent report shows that 13% of those who are too young to be eligible for Medicare in the U.S. are not taking prescribed medications because of the cost. This adds $290 billion each year to total health costs because of the consequences of lack of treatment.

See: Obama Administration: Big Pharma Worth More Than Lives of People in India.