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INDIAN PHARMACEUTICAL SECTOR SPLIT BETWEEN INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS AND ACCESS TO MEDICINES FOR ALL

Indian pharmaceutical sector is largely driven by exports, the country is the biggest foreign supplier of generic medicines to the US, the world's largest drug market. The latest report by the US Trade Representative (USTR) on intellectual property rights (IPR), termed Special 301, retained India on its Priority Watch List of alleged violators of the US patents law.

India's intellectual property rights (IPR) have  profoundly affected the pharmaceutical industry. Effective patent protection is necessary to allow investments in innovative lifesaving drugs. If countries do not respect intellectual property (IP) protection, the future of new medicines is at risk, because incentives for the research-based pharmaceutical industry to invest large amount of money in the development of a single new medicine will be undermined.

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America’s (PhRMA) members want strong patent laws in India. Companies believe that detailed laws will encourage and sustain innovation in the research-based and technology-intensive pharmaceuticals industry.

The strain between the two nations, related to the IPR issue in the pharmaceutical sector, increased after the apex court denied patent protection to Swiss multinational Novartis for its Glivec (an important drug in the treatment of myeloid leukaemia) in India.

Novartis lost a seven-year legal battle after the court ruled that small changes and improvements to the drug Glivec did not amount to innovation deserving a patent. The ruling opens the way for generic companies in India to manufacture and to sell cheap copies of the drug in the developing world.

Such a decision represents a big step forward in enabling poor people to access medicines in the developing world, even though it can discourage future innovation in India, as the Swiss company argued.

On the other hand, Indian government must support the pharmaceutical domestic market, the third-largest exporting sector. In order to improve the access to medicines in India, it is needed to advance sustainable policy solutions to healthcare financing, infrastructure, and human resources challenges rather than focusing on compulsory licenses or other ways of undermining patent protection of innovative medicines.

 

The gLAWcal Team

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

(Source: Business Standard)

This news has been realized by gLAWcal—Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development in collaboration with the University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy and the University of Piemonte Orientale, Novara, Italy which are both beneficiaries of the European Union Research Executive Agency IRSES Project “Liberalism in Between Europe And China” (LIBEAC) coordinated by Aix-Marseille University (CEPERC). This work has been realized in the framework of Workpackages 4, coordinated by University Institute of European Studies (IUSE) in Turin, Italy.