Thousands of HIV-positive protesters in India recently urged the government to reject European Union (EU) trade demands, which they said would make lifesaving drugs unaffordable to millions of people with the disease. Carrying banners reading “Don’t trade away our lives”, around 2,000 demonstrators from India and other Asian countries marched through downtown New Delhi and staged a lie-in. They alleged that the EU was trying to seek provisions in a proposed trade deal that would push prices of generic drugs made in India beyond the reach of people with the HIV virus in developing countries. Paul Cawthorne, a spokesman for Paris-based humanitarian group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), said: “More than 80% of the AIDS drugs our medical practitioners use to treat 175,000 people in developing countries are affordable generics from India. Beyond AIDS, we rely on producers in India for drugs to treat other illnesses, such as tuberculosis and malaria. We can not afford to let our patients’ lifeline be cut.” He further added that affordable medicines produced in India have been played a major role in scaling up HIV/AIDS treatment to more than five million people in developing countries. The scale of the contribution of Indian-made generics can be gauged from the fact that the average yearly cost of anti-HIV drug treatments, which was USD 10,000 per patient in 2000 has been pushed down to USD 70 as of 2010. “We all rely on affordable medicines made here in India to stay alive,” said Nepal-based Rajiv Kafle, of the Asia-Pacific Network of Positive People. “We don’t want to go back in time, to when our friends and loved ones died because they couldn’t afford the medicines they needed,” Kafle said. The EU is demanding intellectual property provisions in the free trade agreement that exceed what international trade rules require, MSF said. The most damaging measure is “data exclusivity” which would act like a patent and block more affordable generic medicines from the market, even for drugs that are already off patent, the group said. “It would be a colossal mistake to introduce data exclusivity in India, when millions of people across the globe depend on the country as the pharmacy of the developing world’,” said Anand Grover, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health.