[Ip-health] APN+/Health GAP: U.S. Pressure On India's Pro-health Patent Law Threatens Sustainable Development Goals

Matthew Kavanagh matthew at healthgap.org
Fri Sep 25 06:03:55 PDT 2015


*Asia Pacific Network of People living with HIV/ AIDS (APN+) and HEALTHGAP
Call on India to stand strong and defend the pharmacy of the Developing

*25 September 2015, Bangkok and New York* – As world leaders gather in New
York to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the Asia Pacific
Network of People living with HIV/AIDS and Health GAP (Global Access
Project) are demanding the U.S. immediately stop pressure on India to
change its pro-health patent and data protection laws, which they warn
would put realization of health SDGs out of reach for much of the world and
directly contradict the goals and targets being set at the UN.

“For millions of patients around the world, India is a life line for
medicines,” said Shiba Phurailatpam, Regional Co-ordinator of the
Asia-Pacific Network of People living with HIV/AIDS. “US pressure on
India’s generic manufacturing capacity has escalated alarmingly in the past
few years threatening the lives and health of millions in the developing

The Sustainable Development Summit in New York will adopt 17 goals
including Goal 3 on health. Experts and activists warned targets of ending
global pandemics and achieving universal health coverage require
affordable, high-quality drugs—the majority of which are produced in India.

This is why the SDGs also include the prominent target to: “Support the
research and development of vaccines and medicines for the communicable and
noncommunicable diseases that primarily affect developing countries,
provide access to affordable essential medicines and vaccines, in
accordance with the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public
Health, which affirms the right of developing countries to use to the full
the provisions in the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual
Property Rights [TRIPS] regarding flexibilities to protect public health,
and, in particular, provide access to medicines for all.”

At the behest of the U.S. pharmaceutical industry, however, the Obama
administration has been actively pressuring the Indian government to do
exactly the opposite—to give up its fully legal use of flexibilities in
World Trade Organization’s TRIPS Agreement — and threatening trade
sanctions if the Modi government refuses.

“India has been the leading example globally of the most effective use of
TRIPS flexibilities,” said Prof Brook Baker, Senior Policy Analyst at
Health GAP. “Over the next 15 years, the global community is setting
ambitious goals to tackle communicable and non-communicable diseases. The
experience of HIV has shown that getting 15 million on treatment by 2015
was achieved in large part thanks to generic competition and this is
reflected in the SDGs. Without safe, effective and affordable generic
medicines, there will be little hope of achieving the SDGs, which is why
U.S. pressure on India to cripple generics and to support big pharma
monopolies is so out of step with the Administration’s statements at the UN
today,” he said.

TRIPS flexibilities refer to the use of provisions in the TRIPS agreement
that allow countries to adopt pro-health provisions in their national
patent and data protection laws to ensure that only high-quality patents
are granted and that there are safety valves to ensure patents and data
rules do not prevent countries from providing access to medicines to their
population. In 2001, Indian companies were able to offer AIDS treatment for
less than a dollar a day catalyzing global commitment to tackling the AIDS
epidemic. Since 2005 when India complied with TRIPS, the use of TRIPS
flexibilities like strict patentability criteria to prevent evergreening
and improve the quality of granted patents and patent oppositions have been
critical to continuing generic production and supply from India. India’s
lone compulsory license dropped the price of a liver and kidney cancer drug
from $4200 to $134 per month.

“Patients and health groups are using the provisions of India’s pro-health
laws to challenge patent applications on minor changes made to existing
medicines,” said Phurailatpam. “The impact of their victories is felt
across India’s borders as Indian companies remain free to manufacture and
export generic versions of these critical medicines. The success of India’s
pro-health safeguards is leading other developing countries to adopt
similar measures to protect public health and prevent abuse my
multinational pharmaceutical companies. Now more than ever, as India and
other developing countries are faced with patented drugs priced in
thousands of dollars, the Indian government must promote, protect and make
full use of its pro-health patent law and not succumb to big pharma
pressure to dilute it.”

There is however, growing concern that the relentless pressure of big
pharma and the resulting pressure from the U.S. government may push the
Indian government to compromise its long held position on supporting and
promoting generic production of medicines.

“Even for a strong, emerging economy like India, geo-political realities
mean that the pressure from the US can have a very real impact on the
ground. President Obama must stop pushing the agenda of the multinational
pharmaceutical industry on India,” said Baker. “Denying millions across the
developing world access to life saving medicines is hardly the legacy this
President should leave behind.”

“The Indian PM and his government have been forced to repeatedly state that
India respects IPR in the face of a relentless and malicious misinformation
campaign by big pharma. India has complied with its international IP
obligations under the WTO for the past 10 years and its balanced use of
TRIPS flexibilities has brought the benefits of medical technology into the
hands of millions of poor patients in developing countries. This is
something the Indian PM should be proud of and not have to repeatedly
explain and justify,” added Phurailatpam.

Now, as the Indian Prime Minister addresses heads of State in New York at
the Sustainable Development Summit, APN+ and Health GAP call on India to
not only stand strong against US pressure and defend the pharmacy of the
developing world but to showcase it to the world as a pathway to achieving
the ambitious health targets of the Sustainable Development Goals.



In New York: Matthew Kavanagh, Health GAP, +1 202-486-2488;
matthew at healthgap.org

In Bangkok: Shiba Phurailatpam, APN+, +66866000738; shiba at apnplus.org

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