NATIONAL

SAARC Health Ministers' meet begins today

NEW DELHI NOV.13. Health Ministers of the SAARC nations are meeting here on Friday and Saturday for a detailed discussion on the scenario that is expected to emerge following the introduction of the product patent regime in the pharmaceutical sector in 2005.

The Ministers would discuss the concerns over the possibility of an increase in the prices of drugs because of the introduction of the product patent regime and its impact on the Indian pharmaceutical industry, which has more expertise in producing generic drugs than on development of new drug molecules.

The meeting, which would be the first ever conclave of SAARC Health Ministers, would also discuss the patent and other IPR (intellectual property rights) issues relating to the use of herbal-based medicines and measures for mainstreaming of the traditional systems of medicine in the healthcare delivery systems. The Union Health Minister, Sushma Swaraj, told mediapersons that the meeting would also discuss women's health, particularly the steps required to tackle the problem of high maternal mortality rates in the region.