[Ip-health] WTO unimpressed with patent violation charges against India
shailly.gupta at geneva.msf.org
Mon Apr 29 19:27:28 PDT 2013
Hindu Business Line
GENEVA, APRIL 26:
Global pharma majors are unlikely to get any support from the WTO in
arm-twisting India to change its patent rules.
No member of the World Trade Organisation has so far raised any concerns
either on India issuing compulsory licence for production of Bayer's
anti-renal cancer medicine or on its refusing patent for Novartis'
"Recent decisions by the courts in India have led to a lot of protest by
pharmaceutical companies. But decisions made by an independent judiciary
have to be respected as such," WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said.
PATENT LAW ADEQUACY
Lamy's statement is important as global drug majors and some developed
countries, including the US, have been questioning the adequacy of India's
patent laws. New Delhi has maintained that it has not flouted TRIPS (the
global intellectual property regime) but has only used the flexibilities the
The Supreme Court recently ruled against Swiss company Novartis and upheld
the Government's decision not to grant patent to Glivec, a drug for
leukaemia, on the basis of Section 3(d) of the Indian Patent Act that
prevents ever-greening of patents.
India's refusal to give Novartis the patent on the ground that it was not
new as the original compound Imatinib was disclosed before the TRIPS
Agreement of 1995, has irked pharma giants in developed countries.
Drug companies were also upset when India provided its first compulsory
licence to Hyderabad-based Natco last year. The patent was provided for
renal cancer medicine Nexavar as the German major Bayer's version, priced at
Rs.2.8 lakh (about $5,235) for a month's treatment, was prohibitive for most
patients. Natco is now providing the drug at a fraction of the price - Rs
8,800 or about $165).
But the TRIPS Agreement clearly allows issuing of compulsory licences for
life-saving drugs. "TRIPs provides flexibilities that allow countries to
issue compulsory licences for patented medicines to address health
urgencies," Lamy said.
Although the US and a number of European countries, including Switzerland,
had some years ago raised their voice against Section 3(d), alleging that it
was violative of TRIPS, public opinion largely favoured generic
"Because of the active NGO lobbying against a stringent patent regime for
generics, it has become a sensitive issue at the WTO and nobody is speaking
against India," an Indian Government official toldBusiness Line.
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