[Ip-health] US drug lobby to meet key Indian govt officials this week

robert weissman rob at essential.org
Thu Oct 21 18:54:46 PDT 2010


Business Standard

US drug lobby to meet key govt officials this week
Joe C Mathew / New Delhi
October 21, 2010

Representatives of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of 
America (PHRMA) — the powerful drug lobby of US-based drug 
multinationals — are planning a series of high-level meetings with key 
central government officials in Delhi this week.

The meeting comes against the backdrop of a move by the Department of 
Industrial Policy and Promotion (Dipp) to explore the possibilities of 
issuing compulsory licences to domestic drug manufacturers to make 
low-cost versions of patented essential medicines available.

While PHRMA sources termed the scheduled meetings as “routine”, civil 
society groups see this as a move meant to “stall” the process of 
compulsory licensing.

In an open letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today, 13 civil 
society groups wanted the government to go ahead with plans to increase 
the accessibility of essential medicines to common man.

In a joint response on September 29, PHRMA and its European counterpart 
had said that a policy to encourage compulsory licences on intellectual 
property would be counter-productive for the domestic drug industry. It 
also said Dipp’s discussion note on the topic contained several 
inaccurate and misleading statements that need rectification.

Of the 30 responses received by Dipp on its discussion note, at least 10 
support the PHRMA views. The world’s biggest drug firm Pfizer, which had 
submitted a similar opinion in its individual capacity initially, had 
later withdrawn its response.

According to industry officials, the PHRMA delegation will meet 
officials in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), as well as the 
ministries of health and chemicals during October 21-22. The team is 
also expected to express its concern over some suggestions made by the 
parliamentary panel on the need to restrict foreign takeovers of Indian 
drug companies.

Incidentally, the demands raised by the foreign drug manufacturers 
through the Organization of Pharmaceutical Producers of India before PMO 
got rejected after the nodal department Dipp shot down those proposals 
to make Indian patent laws more stringent.

The open letter from civil society groups such as All India Peoples 
Science Network, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan and All India Drug Action Network 
wanted the government to put a cap on foreign direct investment on the 
ownership of pharma companies. It also wanted liberal use of compulsory 

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