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
9 August 2015

Why South Africa's health minister is so worried about India caving in to big pharma

Author: Vidya Krishnan and Mandakini Gahlot , www.scroll.in

The South African health minister Aaron Motsoaledi...said that he was extremely "scared and worried" about the possibility of pro-industry changes in India’s intellectual property rights regime...Speaking about Indian generic companies, which made it possible for Africans to access affordable HIV/AIDS drugs in the past decade, Motsoaledi said, “They were our heroes, and if they change their laws now, we will be in big trouble in sub-Saharan Africa, really big trouble.”

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Article
22 January 2015

Can Obama And Modi Settle The US-India Feud In The Pharmaceuticals Sector?

Author: Aman Malik, International Business Times

India and the United States have a problem in the pharmaceuticals sector. And drug-makers in both countries will be keenly watching whether President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi can do anything about it when the former comes visiting India as a state guest at the Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi...The problem is mainly on two fronts -- on the one hand, Indian drug makers...have been getting flak from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) for intellectual property rights (IPR) violations and for allegedly tampering with data; on the other hand, foreign pharmaceutical companies...have been denied patents by India for their drugs.

 

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Article
22 January 2015

The one possible item on Obama's India agenda that we should worry about

Author: Nayantara Narayanan, Scroll.in

Called the draft National Intellectual Property Rights policy, this document is likely to interest President Barack Obama greatly since it could determine the size of profits that American pharmaceutical companies can make by selling medicines to Indians. Conversely, it could affect the healthcare costs of millions of Indians...At the heart of the debate is the issue of how drugs are patented.

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Article
22 January 2015

US 'threats' to Patent Act irks RSS outfit

Author: Suvojit Bagchi, Hindu

Only days before President Barack Obama’s visit, Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), the powerful economic wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, has objected to the United States’ “threats” to India’s domestic policies on Intellectual Property Right (IPR)...The organisation is against any drive to facilitate business interest of the US & the EU’s pharmaceutical companies in India. According to SJM, the “Western world” is building “continuous pressure” on India to amend many sections of the Patent Act of 1970, particularly 3(d), which would qualify global pharmaceutical companies to market new drugs without making any genuine innovation, thus escalating profit. In a strongly worded resolution, the RSS outfit has said that the government “should not compromise” and succumb to pressure.

 

 

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Article
21 January 2015

Barack Obama visit may pressurise govt to dilute patent laws, fears medical body

Author: PB Jayakumar, Business Today

US President Barack Obama's visit to India is likely to accelerate ongoing pressure from the US on the Indian government to dilute its patent laws to help multinational drug makers, fears international medical humanitarian organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders (MSF)...The US multinational lobby is pressurising the Indian Government to dilute rules related to Section 3 (d) of Indian Patent Act on incremental innovations and Section 84 related to compulsory licensing (allowing generic companies to make drugs despite the patent) during emergencies.

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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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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
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
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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