Medical charity warns India over patent rules

January 21, 2015

Doctors without Borders on Wednesday warned the Indian government not to bow to US pressure to amend patent regulations that allow millions access to affordable medicines, ahead of a visit by President Barack Obama.

Since India's new right-wing government came to power in May, New Delhi has been under heavy pressure from Washington, prodded by the powerful US pharmaceutical industry, to dilute its strict patent laws.

"The alarm bells should be going off for the new Indian government," said Manica Balasegaram, who heads the medical aid organisation's campaign on drug access.

"The US is pushing India to play by its rules on , which we know will lead to medicines being priced out of reach for millions of people."

India says it is fully compliant with World Trade Organization patent rules, but the United States has placed it on a "watchlist" of intellectual property violators.

Indian law stipulates drugs must "satisfy the test of novelty or inventiveness" to win patent protection and does not allow minor tweaks—called "evergreening"—to prolong patent life.

Obama will this week make his second official visit to India, accompanied by a trade delegation that includes the head of PhRMA, a pharmaceutical trade body.

Western companies say India's powerhouse generics industry and stringent filtering reduce commercial incentives to produce cutting-edge medicines.

But health campaigners say India's vast generics industry is a major supplier of cheap, life-saving drugs to treat diabetes, cancer and other diseases for people cannot afford expensive branded versions.

Explore further: India court blocks Bayer generic drug appeal

Related Stories

India court blocks Bayer generic drug appeal

December 13, 2014
An Indian court has rejected German drug giant Bayer's bid to block a generic version of its blockbuster cancer treatment Nexavar by a local drugmaker, a move hailed by activists on Saturday.

Medical charity accuses US of pushing India to ease patent rules

October 19, 2014
Medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) on Saturday accused the United States of ratcheting up pressure on India's new government to relax strict patent conditions which have made the country the "world's pharmacy".

Roche drops India patent for breast-cancer drug (Update)

August 17, 2013
Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche says it is abandoning a patent for top-selling breast cancer drug Herceptin in the Indian market, paving the way for local drugmakers to make a cheaper generic version.

India generics giant wins cancer drug patent case

September 8, 2012
Indian generics giant Cipla says it has scored a "landmark" court win in a patent challenge launched by Switzerland's Roche Holding over the Mumbai firm's version of a lung-cancer drug.

Bayer challenges India cancer drug ruling

May 6, 2012
German pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG has challenged a ground-breaking Indian ruling that allowed a local firm to produce a vastly cheaper copy of its patented drug for kidney and liver cancer.

Recommended for you

Complex inhalers prevent patients from taking medicine

February 23, 2018
Respiratory disease patients with arthritis could struggle to manage their conditions because their inhalers are too fiddly for them to use, University of Bath research has found.

Opioid abuse leads to heroin use and a hepatitis C epidemic, researcher says

February 22, 2018
Heroin is worse than other drugs because people inject it much sooner, potentially resulting in increased risk of injection-related epidemics such as hepatitis C and HIV, a Keck School of Medicine of USC study shows.

Opioid addiction treatment behind bars reduced post-incarceration overdose deaths in RI

February 14, 2018
A treatment program for opioid addiction launched by the Rhode Island Department of Corrections was associated with a significant drop in post-incarceration drug overdose deaths and contributed to an overall drop in overdose ...

Heroin vaccine blocks lethal overdose

February 14, 2018
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have achieved a major milestone toward designing a safe and effective vaccine to both treat heroin addiction and block lethal overdose of the drug. Their research, published ...

Study shows NIH spent >$100 billion on basic science for new medicines

February 12, 2018
Federally funded research contributed to the science underlying all new medicines approved by the FDA over the past six years, according to a new study by Bentley University.

Opioid use increases risk of serious infections

February 12, 2018
Opioid users have a significantly increased risk of infections severe enough to require treatment at the hospital, such as pneumonia and meningitis, as compared to people who don't use opioids.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Huns
not rated yet Jan 21, 2015
This is a good example of why patent law should be seriously de-fanged.

The idea behind patent laws is to add value to peoples' lives by encouraging innovation. Companies buying up patents so that they can file troll lawsuits adds no value, except to that company. Companies insisting that India has to let millions of people suffer and/or die because they can't afford US$200 for a month's supply of a drug mean that those people have to suffer and die over money.

Another great example is 3D printing. Companies used to charge north of $50,000 for technology that can be had today (now that the patents have expired) for $1,000 or less. Before those patents expired, where was the innovation? Where was the great public benefit? People were prevented from carving out their own livelihoods so that billion-dollar companies like 3D Systems could rake in 10,000 percent (and higher) profit margins.

Governments should buy out all the medical patents and open everything up. This is MEDICINE.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.