Sir Elton John: We must end the greed of these corporations

 

Share
Related Topics

Remember Stella? No? Well, let me remind you. On World Aids Day in 2010 when I was guest editor of The Independent I chose a story to lead the paper about four-year-old Stella Mbabazi who became HIV-positive in her mother's womb. She had not died. Indeed she, and many like her in rural Uganda, was thriving thanks to a cheap supply of antiretroviral drugs from India.

The cost of those drugs had fallen from nearly $500 a year to just $70 – thanks to the growth of the generic drugs industry in India. It meant that international donors could help Stella and four million other HIV-positive people in the developing world.

But there was a grave threat to little Stella.

Half a world away, European Union bureaucrats in Brussels were preparing for trade talks with India. One of the things the EU wanted was to increase the protection of the intellectual property rights and commercial interests of European pharmaceuticals giants. They called it "data exclusivity".

Now that threat is coming to pass. In a high-level summit in Delhi today officials from the EU will try to force India into accepting restrictions on its generic medicine industry that would mean delays of up to 10 years in delivery of generic versions of new, improved medicines and up to 15 years in the case of paediatric versions of the same drugs. This is an attack on the health of the world's poor motivated by the aggressive demands of profit-hungry multinational pharmaceutical companies.

The British Government must step in and stop the EU attack. The UK has a proud record on international development and access to medicines. In that same issue of The Independent the Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, said: "It's important that companies are able to put in place protection for their intellectual property but this must not have a negative impact on public health. The level of protection should be tailored to ensure that much-needed drugs are available in the poorest countries."

The Government must now act to fulfil that pledge. I raised this issue with Prime Minister David Cameron when I met with him early last year. He assured me that access to medicines would not be undermined by this agreement. But I have heard from colleagues in India that the terms that we are most concerned about are still being pushed by EU negotiators. I've battled for many years to see progress in the Aids response. I don't want to see those achievements thrown away.

This is a critical moment. The Government must stand up for the rights of people living with HIV and the health of the world's most vulnerable by stopping this EU attack on the vital Indian supply of essential medicines.

We cannot allow Europe's greed to triumph over the needs of HIV patients around the world.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Thousands of Russian troops marched on Red Square in the annual Victory Day parade in a proud display of the nation's military might amid escalating tensions over Ukraine  

Once again, the West fails to understand Russia

Mary Dejevsky
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before