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December 14, 2010

Pending Trade Deal Worries AIDS Activists

Voice of America: "Katy Athersach is a policy advisor for Doctors Without Borders in Geneva.

"'The reason why this is so important to us is that 80 percent of the medicines we use to treat people living with HIV and AIDS across our projects in the developing world come from generic companies in India,' says Athersach. 'And these drugs are vastly cheaper than alternatives because of the competition that has allowed these Indian companies to compete together and lower prices.'

"Among other concerns, Athersach says Doctors Without Borders is worried a trade agreement will strengthen European patent protections, denying Indian companies immediate access to new drug developments. Similar concerns sparked a demonstration by AIDS activists last week in Nairobi.

"Activists have also rallied in India, Thailand and London, says Athersach.

"'We are very hopeful that our arguments will be heard, that our voices will be taken into account and that these provisions will be removed from the agreement. But of course this is by no means certain,' she says."