Monday, 5 March 2012

Novartis vs India: the showdown approaches

The Swiss-based pharmaceutical giant Novartis is taking the state of India to court in a case that has, after rumbling about in the lower courts for six years, wound up as a very public litmus test of the legal framework sustaining India’s generic drugs revolution.

With the case due before the Supreme Court on 28 March, the fate of millions who depend on affordable Indian medicines may soon hang in the balance.

At first glance, the case concerns the fact that Novartis has been denied a patent for one of its blockbuster anti-cancer drugs, Glivec, in what is one of the world’s fastest-growing drug markets.

Read more: New Internationalist


Global civil society rises up over FTAs

Civil society groups around the world have upped the ante in the global struggle to protect and promote access to medicine and focused their attention on the European Union-India free trade agreement (FTA) currently being negotiated between the two governments, reports Fauwaz Abdul Aziz of Third World Network.

Bolstered by the leaking of the negotiation texts of the EU-India FTA relating to the intellectual property (IP) provisions, thousands of activists have gone to the streets of capitals globally demanding that the EU desist from putting up further barriers against the supply of affordable generic medicines from India.

Read more: Aliran

Resurgence of Indian Labour: General strike a great success

 More than 100 million workers joined the strike
The biggest ever, the countrywide general strike on February 28, 2012, sponsored by eleven major Central Trade Unions (CTUs), namely, AITUC, CITU, INTUC, BMS, TUCC, UTUC, AICCTU, HMS, AIUTUC, LPF and SEWA and independent federations supported by more than 5,000 smaller unions across the country was a grand success. Key sectors of the Indian economy such as banking, insurance, telecom, transport, mining, postal and manufacturing was massively joined the strike.
The unprecedented unity shown by trade unions evoked massive response from the workers. As per initial estimates, more than 100 million workers all over the country – from Jammu & Kashmir in the north to Tamil Nadu in the south, from Assam in the east to Gujarat in the west participated in the strike opposing the anti worker and anti people policies of the government. This General Strike, the fourteenth after the advent of the neoliberal economic policies in our country is significant because of the unprecedented unity of all the central trade unions and the demands raised by them that reflected the concerns not only of the workers but also of all sections of the toiling people. Besides, joint campaigns at the state and lower levels were also conducted this time on a wider scale. The joint campaign undertaken by the central leadership of the trade unions inspired many independent and state level trade unions to join the strike.

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