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CPI(M) sees link between bird flu scare and drug multinationals

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Mar 17 (UNI) Expressing apprehension that an unnecessary scare has been created about the bird flu to benefit some multinationals producing Tamiflu drug, senior CPI(M) leader Nilotpal Basu today demanded that the government should order a thorough probe into the matter.

It was very surprising that the government was buying one million capsules of Tamiflu, the only drug to control bird flu, at the rate of 12 dollars each from Hetero Drug, a sublicencee of German multinational Roche, while Indian company Cipla was prepared to produce the capsule at 1/20th of the price, said Mr Basu raising the issue as a special mention in the Rajya Sabha.

He said the drug was being purchased from multinationals while there was a clear law after the third amendment to the Patents Act that in the case of any epidemic, the government can give compulsory license to any company to produce the essential drugs, even though they might have been patented by other companies.

The CPI(M) leader said the lethal nature of the disease is being highlighted by the media which was far from ground reality. The same happened in the case of SARS too. And this is happening in those Asian countries which are emerging economies, he claimed.

''All this points out to an inseparable connection between the outbreak of the disease and the aggressive bids by multinationals to capture the Asian markets. It is a very serious question and needs thorough probe,'' said Mr Basu.


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