[Ip-health] Times of India: Fears over EU plan for strict drug patent regime
shailly.gupta at geneva.msf.org
Mon Apr 13 23:29:52 PDT 2015
Fears over EU plan for strict drug patent regime
NEW DELHI: As Prime Minister Narendra Modi and German Chancellor Markel are
set to discuss the India-EU free trade agreement, public health groups and
Indian pharmaceutical companies are concerned that the European Commission
may push for stringent patent regime for cheaper medicines manufactured at
There are concerns that the European Commission may push for intellectual
property provisions creating trade barriers and restricting access to
cheaper 'Made in India' generic medicines across the world.
Through the bilateral agreement, EU is trying to impose stringent patent
norms on Indian generic medicines during transit. For instance, if a drug is
patented in EU and is exported to a third country via EU, it can seen as
patent rights violations. The proposed agreement also suggests heavy
penalties for such infringements. There are other such provisions, which are
not limited to the supplier but also brings under the scanner the exporter
and treatment providers.
Though the FTA also contains provisions that can be significant for India
with the expected change in global trade, increased levels of IP protections
pose a severe threat to the country's public health as well as the drug
manufacturing industry, which is major export revenue churner.
The proposed FTA seeks to slash tariffs by 90% over 10 years from the
implementation of the pact. The EU accounts for almost 17% of the India's
total exports. The region is currently India's largest trading partner with
bilateral trade worth $130 billion in 2013-2014.
"The 'Make in India' campaign is a push by the Indian government to
encourage India as a manufacturing hub. However, increased levels of
intellectual property in areas such as pharmaceuticals could potentially
come at the expense of undermining public health provisions and local
production which have made India the 'pharmacy to the developing world'
supplying affordable generic versions of life-saving medicines", says Leena
Menghaney, Head-South Asia, MSF Access Campaign.
While EU has been pushing India to adopt provisions beyond World Trade
Organization's (WTO) Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), any
commitment beyond TRIPS will impact healthcare affordability.
So far, there have been 13 rounds of negotiations over the FTA or
Broad-Based Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) with the last one in 2012.
Sources say certain damaging provisions such as patent term extensions and
data exclusivity have already been removed by EU negotiators or rejected by
India's Department of Industrial Policy and
Promotion (DIPP) from the proposed deal.
MSF Access Campaign (India)
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