Indian government defends country's generics industry

A major government official in India is blasting what he says are attempts to target the country's generic drug industry as substandard or inferior. As reported in The Economic Times, he's also seeking support from African countries to back the industry and its effort to bring affordable treatments to poor people in both regions.

"There is a campaign to showcase generics as substandard, that they are not real," Indian Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said in the The Economic Times article. "We are determined to ensure that poor people in my country and in Africa have access to these medicines."

Sharma, speaking at the 8th annual India-Africa Project Partnership Summit, did not say who is carrying out the campaign. A likely culprit: The U.S. government, perhaps? The Department of Justice earlier this year negotiated a substantial settlement with Indian generic drugmaker Ranbaxy Laboratories over everything from false data to quality-control problems at both U.S. and Indian plants. Even India's CROs have taken a hit recently, with a scathing "Dateline NBC" report suggesting ethics problems at two companies.

India has aggressively pursued development of cheaper, generic medicines for its population. Those generic drugs treat cancer, AIDS and other major diseases, and have brought down the cost of medicines in a major way, Sharma said.

Recently, the government for the first time invoked its compulsory licensing rules, allowing domestic drugmaker Natco Pharma to make and sell a generic version of Bayer's cancer drug Nexavar, even though the drug is not on patent. notes that the generic price will be 97% cheaper, but argues that the drug is still unaffordable and should be added to a list of generics that public healthcare facilities can give for free.

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