[Ip-health] More on Bryson's criticism of NATCO compulsory license

Jamie Love james.love at keionline.org
Wed Mar 28 09:28:24 PDT 2012


India defends compulsory licensing of patent drugs

Country’s intellectual property rights are in tune with trade-related
aspects of WTO deal, says commerce minister

Asit Ranjan Mishra (asit.m at livemint.com)

India on Monday defended its decision to allow Indian drug makers to
produce and sell copies of patented drugs under the so-called compulsory
licensing norms.

US commerce secretary John Bryson, on a six-day visit to India leading a
business delegation, raised concerns over the use of compulsory licensing
with his Indian counterpart Anand Sharma.

Compulsory licensing allows a local drug maker to manufacture a generic
version of a life-saving patented drug that’s not freely available in the
market, without the consent of the patent owner.

Earlier this month, India’s patent office invoked the provision for the
first time, granting a licence to Natco Pharma Ltd to make and sell a copy
of Bayer Healthcare AG’s cancer drug Nexavar after determining that the
life-saving drug was not available at a reasonably affordable price.

Sharma defended India’s decision, saying the country’s intellectual
property rights regime is consistent with the trade-related aspects of
intellectual property rights (TRIPS), a World Trade Organization agreement
of which India is a signatory.

“Bryson on his part said the pharmaceutical sector is a highly competitive
area and a lot of investment is involved,” a commerce ministry official
said under condition of anonymity.

US pharma companies such as Pfizer, Abbott, BMS and Eli Lilly have made
large investments in India. In 2010, Abbott bought Piramal’s drug
formulations business for $3.72 billion.

Bryson also discussed foreign direct investment in Indian retail companies
and local content requirement in solar panels, among other issues, the
official said. India, on its part, raised the issue of high number of visa
cancellations by US authorities.

“HI and L1 visas to ensure that the professionals, whether they are going
from here or they are transferred from the foreign location by their
companies to the new locations, there have been concerns over the high rate
of rejection. Last year, visas declined by 28%. We had a very frank
discussion including some of the issues on which US have concerns,” Sharma
told media persons after the bilateral meeting.
Earlier in the day, Bryson, addressing an event organized by industry lobby
Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, opposed India’s
local content sourcing requirement in the information technology,
electronics and solar energy sectors, holding that such measures made it
harder to invest in the country.

Listing out barriers between the two nations, Bryson said several tariffs
on American products were still too high. “Capital goods such as
power-generating equipment face a basic duty of 7.5% and an effective rate
of 22% when taxes are added. Some medical products also have a 7.5% rate.
Grapes, citrus and other fruits face a 30% duty,” he said.
Indian commerce ministry officials said India is not keen on providing
greater market access to the US when there is growing protectionism there.

Bryson said both sides must work to foster greater fairness and a more
level-playing field for businesses. “If India is not able to readily access
US products or attract strategic investments from US businesses, our
progress together could slow down. In the long-term, this could cause
significant harm,” he said.

Bryson encouraged India to allow for more international competition by
joining the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Government Procurement.
“This agreement has important provisions that support greater openness,” he

T.S. Vishwanath, principal adviser, trade policy, at the APJ-SLG Law
Offices, said Bryson’s demands are reflective of the present global
economic environment and the fact that the US is heading for a Presidential
election later this year.

India is within its rights to issue compulsory licensing, he said. “Big
industry is involved does not mean we cannot issue such licences. One also
has to look at the disease involved, which is taking huge proportions.” The
fact that trade constitutes 54% of India’s GDP (gross domestic product)
indicates that the country is now more aligned with the rest of the world
and is no more a protective country, he added.

James Love.  Knowledge Ecology International
http://www.keionline.org, +1.202.332.2670, US Mobile: +1.202.361.3040,
Geneva Mobile: +41.76.413.6584, efax: +1.888.245.3140.  Sometimes I am
using my MaxRoam number: +447937390810

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