India: Health activists fear decreased access to medicines for the poor - as govt reviews intellectual property laws

Health activists, academics, diplomats, scientists, lawyers, public health organizations have raised concerns about government's decision to review India’s position on Intellectual Property laws, strongly cautioning against coercion from the United States to align India’s IP laws with the interests of transnational corporations. During Indian Prime Minister's visit to US, govt officials committed to set up a high level bilateral working group on intellectual property. The most dangerous aspect of the proposed committee that India has agreed to is the empowerment for decision-making. In the recent past, the country has seen how a conducive IP policy, that doesn’t violate international conventions, has greatly helped millions of people who are in need for urgent modern medical care. The compulsory licensing of a couple of drugs have brought down their prices manifold and increased access to medicines for the poor people. 

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Article
6 October 2014

India: Health activists concerned about affordability of medicines due to US govt. & business pressure

Author: Brook V Baker, Equlibri

Prime Minister Modi is promising to open India to more direct foreign investment and to further liberalize the Indian economy to make it easier for multinational corporations to operate there. To the dismay of health activists worldwide, the US administration appears to have successfully used the Indian PM’s visit to maneuver the Indian government into committing to a joint mechanism on intellectual property. The benign sounding “High Level Intellectual Property (IP) Working Group” is designed to pressure India into changing its interpretation and application of health safeguards in India’s intellectual property policy, ultimately undermining India’s role as the pharmacy for the poor.

 

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Article
8 October 2014

Modi must resist U.S. pressure on drug patents - MSF

Author: Nita Bhalla, Reuters

Prime Minister Narendra Modi must not give in to U.S. pressure to change intellectual property laws which allow India to produce generic medicines poor people can afford, the medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said…MSF said U.S. officials would lobby Modi on the issue of patents as they see India's intellectual property regime as undermining the interests of U.S. pharmaceutical firms…. India’s patent laws and policies have fostered robust generic competition over the past decade, which has brought the price of medicines down substantially – in the case of HIV, by more than 90 percent. The world can’t afford to see India’s pharmacy shut down by U.S. commercial interests."

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Article
8 October 2014

Academics, diplomats, scientists, lawyers, public health orgs issue open letter to PM on proposed IP Policy review

Author: Rupali Samuel, SpicyIP.com

A variety of concerned stakeholders…have written a sharp open letter to Narendra Modi’s government on the decision to review India’s position on IP laws…strongly cautioning against coercion from the foreign state to align India’s IP laws with the interests of transnational corporations… they…demand that the Government of India should not carry out any amendment to the Indian Patents Act to increase patent protection”  calling upon the “Prime Minister, during his visit to the US, not to make any legal or political commitment that compromises flexibilities in the Indian Patents Act for facilitating access to medicines and safeguarding public health, which is based on policies and principles approved by Indian Parliament and is fully consistent with international laws.

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Article
8 October 2014

India’s intellectual property regime fully compliant with WTO norms: Government

Author: Economic Times

India has consistently pointed out that the intellectual property right (IPR) legal regime in India is fully TRIPS compliant and that any issues to be discussed have to be discussed in bilateral forums like Trade Policy Forum (TPF)," the department of industrial policy and promotion said in a release...The joint statement, issued during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to America, has said, "...The leaders committed to establish an annual high level IP Working Group with appropriate decision making and technical level meetings as a part of the TPF". The statement on the IPR issue will only strengthen the bilateral institutional mechanism, DIPP said. "The joint statement issued merely reiterates whatever has existed in the earlier TPF," it added.

 

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Article
8 October 2014

Why did Modi agree to give away India’s patent sovereignty to Americans?

Author: G Pramod Kumar, Firstpost

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s US visit was dubbed as a great bilateral victory for India… The sector in question is Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)… The leaders…talk about a high level bilateral working group on intellectual property... most dangerous aspect of the proposed committee that India has agreed to is the empowerment for decision-making…It was the existing IP policy that helped build India’s pharma industry, which now is the lifeline for not only the country’s healthcare needs, but also that of most of the developing world. This regime is extremely crucial for ensuring an enabling environment for the pharma industry because it is still not capable of developing new drugs on its own given the poor resources at its disposal.

Article
12 October 2014

Govt. denies bowing to U.S. pressure on IP regime

Author: Puja Mehra, Hindu

The Modi Government…denied that the reference to Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in the joint statement from U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this week, was an outcome of the U.S. “arm-twisting”. The U.S. consent to discussion of IPR issues through the bilateral mechanism is a re-affirmation of India’s stand that issues need bilateral discussion and not unilateral action, a Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) clarification said…The joint statement, the DIPP clarified, in fact “merely reiterates” the position India has held since 2010 — this consistent position being that the IPR legal regime in India is fully TRIPS compliant and that issues to be discussed have to be taken up in bilateral forums like TPF. 

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Article
12 October 2014

MSF urges Prime Minister Modi to resist US political pressure to restrict global access to medicines

Author: Médecins Sans Frontières

...Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is urging the Indian government to resist U.S. pressure to drop the use of public health safeguards in its intellectual property laws, which have enabled India to...suppl[y]...affordable generic medicines to people and governments worldwide, including to MSF’s medical humanitarian projectsIndia’s production of affordable medicines is a vital life-line for MSF’s medical humanitarian operations and millions of people in developing countries. India’s patent laws and policies have fostered robust generic competition over the past decade, which has brought the price of medicines down substantially – in the case of HIV, by more than 90 per cent”, said Rohit Malpani, Director of Policy and Analysis for MSF’s Access Campaign. “The world can’t afford to see India’s pharmacy shut down by U.S. commercial interests.”

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Article
17 December 2014

Bayer loses bid to overturn India's first compulsory licence

Author: Lynne Taylor, Pharmatimes

German drug major Bayer has lost its long-running battle to get India’s first-ever compulsory licence – for its liver and kidney cancer drug Nexavar (sorafenib tosylate) – overturned...The multinational has been seeking to get the compulsory license overturned ever since, initially before the Intellectual Property Appellate Court - which upheld the compulsory license but increased the royalty rate from 6% to 7% - and subsequently at the Bombay High Court, through the issue of a Special Leave Petition. However, this month all legal proceedings have been concluded, as the Supreme Court of India backed the Bombay court’s decision to uphold the compulsory license...Bayer said it was disappointed at the Supreme Court decision. “We are analysing the order and will determine any future course of action afterwards,” said the firm in a statement...welcoming the Supreme Court decision, nongovernmental agency Medicines Sans Frontieres (MSF) praised the “independence of the Indian judiciary in upholding India’s right to legislate with public health interests in mind…amidst intense ongoing US government pressure tactics being waged on India on behalf of the US pharmaceutical industry.

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Article
13 January 2015

India spurns Gilead over hepatitis C patent

Author: AMy Kazmin & Andrew Ward, Financial Times

India’s patent controller has rejected a patent application from Gilead Sciences for a key compound for its blockbuster hepatitis C drug Sovaldi, a refusal that activists said would allow Indian companies immediately to start producing cheap generic versions of the medicine...High quality global journalism requires investment...Gilead’s patent application was challenged by Natco Pharma, a Hyderabad-based generic drugs manufacturer, and a New York non-profit group called Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge...The patent controller ruled that the active compound in Sovaldi, also known as Sofosbuvir, was not sufficiently different to a previously-known molecule.High quality global journalism requires investment...While the application for the final form of the drug is still pending in India, lawyers and activists say the rejection of the patent on the base compound significantly increases the likelihood that a patent will be refused for the final compound. 

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Article
20 January 2015

Ahead of Obama visit, MSF warns US pressure on India could impact access to medicines for millions

Author: Medecins Sans Frontieres

...Obama visit comes in the wake of a critical decision by India’s Patent Controller to deny a patent to pharmaceutical company Gilead for the hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir—an example of how important India’s law is to encouraging price-lowering generic competition. The drug is priced in the US at US$84,000 for a three-month treatment course ($1,000 per pill), although studies estimate its production for a three-month course could be as low as $101 (about $1 per pill)...discontent is already being expressed and the patent rejection is likely to be brought up by US officials accompanying President Obama...India now faces a challenge: future access to essential medicines for millions of people will depend on the new Indian government’s decisions and the kind of patent and innovation system it endorses,” said Leena Menghaney, South Asia Manager of MSF’s Access Campaign.
 

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