Govt Officials Participation At US Drug Summit Draws Flak

The decision of the Health Ministry and Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) to send their officials for attending a summit organised by USA-India Chamber of Commerce (USAIC) in Boston has drawn huge criticism from civil society organisations working on the issues related to the quality of drugs and intellectual rights.

In a letter to Union Health Minister JP Nadda, All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN) has raised its concern stating that the decision of the government to allow Additional Secretary level officials of the Health Ministry to a summit primarily organised by drug manufacturing companies of the USA would only serve the ‘purpose’ of American pharma companies.

While talking to Millennium Post, Dr Gopal Dabade, who heads Drug Action Forum of Karnataka, said, “The participation of government officials to a summit organised by pharma companies are the major concern as drug manufacturers have assembled there not to do any charity. They do all these things with their vested interest.”

“The American pharma companies are lobbying to tweak patent rights, relaxing price controls on medical devices, pharmaceuticals, clinical trial regulations, etc so that they could control the drug markets of India,” Dabade said, adding that the summit has been organised to brainwash the Indian government officials.

According to Dabade, the US pharma firms are lobbying to relax price control norms on coronary stents and other essential drugs. “As recently Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu had made a case for a government-to-government agreement between India and the US to facilitate private companies in both the countries, it means something is ‘cooking’ at government level to mollify US drug majors,” he said.

The Health Ministry has sent Additional Secretary Arun Singhal and a few senior officials of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO), including Dr S Eswara Reddy, who is drugs controller general of India.

“The USAIC summit’s agenda is dominated by transnational companies and their interests. These kinds of conferences are often used for lobbying and advancing industry interests,” the letter read. 

“The participation of policymakers and regulators in such meetings send a wrong signal and increase the Indian government’s vulnerability to undue corporate influence from pharmaceutical transnational corporations on India’s policy-making and regulations,” the letter read. – Millennium Post

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