Viewpoint: India Must Keep Patent Laws for Manufacture of Cheap Generic Drugs

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Recently, trade ministers from 10 Asean countries, India, China, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea gathered to negotiate a deal on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement. But, RCEP negotiations on intellectual property (IP) are at a standstill because India and the Asean countries are unwilling to trade away health by adopting IP provisions that go beyond what is required of them under international trade rules.

Médecins Sans Frontières and millions of people who rely on cheap India-made generic medicines are depending on New Delhi to resist pressure to undermine the public health protections in India’s existing laws. India could build a robust generic medicines industry before 2005 because it did not grant product patents on medicines.

When India, under World Trade Organization rules, started granting pharmaceutical patents in 2005, India’s law makers set the bar high for what merits a patent in the interest of public health. At the same time, India introduced public health safeguards which paved the way for continued supply of affordable generic medicines.

Being a treatment provider, MSF relies heavily on Indian generics to treat more than 200,000 people living with HIV/AIDS across the world. MSF also uses Indian generics to treat many other diseases and conditions. As the world now grapples with an estimated 130-150 million people chronically infected with Hepatitis C virus (HCV), another revolution for affordable generic life-saving medicines is needed.

Source: Hindustan Times (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
public policy