NEW DELHI: Ahead of PM Narendra Modi’s visit to the US, the All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN) has called upon the Indian government to uphold the rights of Indians to affordable medical devices.
In a statement, AIDAN has said, “We urge the Modi Government to not negotiate any compromises on medical devices and to retain the full policy space to take measures to protect and advance public health.”
In particular, we reject any attempt to dilute price controls through the smokescreen of trade margin regulation, it said.
The AIDAN says it is shocked and alarmed at the developments this week that threaten a reversal of India’s long held position on safeguarding its sovereignty to control and regulate prices of essential medical devices, the statement further said.
The statement points out that at the time of the withdrawal of GSP benefits, the Indian government itself noted that the impact would be on a minor segment goods exported from India to the US. A letter by 44 US lawmakers has confirmed this and indeed pointed out that exports from India to the US have in fact increased. In light of this, it is extraordinary that the Government is proposing to endanger access to medical devices for crores of Indians, says AIDAN.
The US pressure on India is aimed at preventing India from using further price controls to make medical devices affordable – critical interventions to address the dire unmet need in the country and to curb corrupt practices that drive up the costs of healthcare, said Malini Aisola, co-convener, AIDAN.
She said, “The US pressure is attempting to gravely undermine India’s laws (such as the DPCO) and its institutions, therefore it is ultimately harmful to the interests of Indian patients.”
“In our view, this constitutes unprecedented, bold-faced interference in India's policy making, on an issue that concerns the health of millions of people,” Ms Aisola added.
AIDAN believes that the attempt to secure trade margin rationalisation is a backdoor attempt to neutralize the price caps, which is the most effective way to make critical medical devices accessible to patients.