[Ip-health] Statement - MSF welcomes Ministry of Commerce clarification on Compulsory Licensing: Warns US pressure on India will continue

leena menghaney leenamenghaney at gmail.com
Wed Mar 23 04:07:54 PDT 2016

*MSF welcomes Ministry of Commerce clarification on Compulsory Licensing:
Warns US pressure on India will continue *

*23 March 2016*

“Médecins Sans Frontières welcomes the clarification from the Indian
government that it has the freedom to grant compulsory licences and to
determine the grounds upon which such licences are granted.

It will be a grave mistake to think that the US pharmaceutical industry, US
India Business Council (USIBC) and the US Trade Representative (USTR) will
give up their campaign against the implementation of public health
safeguards within India’s patent law, which allow generic producers to
provide life-saving drugs at affordable prices.

“Currently, US government and industry are pushing for amendments to the
Indian patent rules to allow out of turn fast track examination of patent
applications, which will undermine the efforts of public interest
organisations and patient groups to file pre-grant oppositions against the
grant of 'evergreening' patent claims on medicines.

“We urge Prime Minister Modi to continue to maintain India’s pro-public
health stance on intellectual property and access to medicines, and to
resist pressure from the US and its pharmaceutical industry lobbyists. To
do otherwise is to impede India’s progress towards using legal
flexibilities allowed under international trade rules to protect new models
of innovation, access and trade in generic medicines.”

*Leena Menghaney, Regional Head-South Asia, MSF Access Campaign*

*Editor’s Note:*

India—the world’s principal producer and supplier of quality generic
medicines, including for antibiotics, TB, malaria and HIV treatment in
developing countries— has in the past year repeatedly been singled out by
the US government and the multinational pharmaceutical industry for
insufficient enforcement of their intellectual property and its independent
patent examination system. Pressure has been building in the Department of
Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) and US demands - on IP enforcement,
fast-track examination of patent applications and moratorium on compulsory
licensing - have dominated discussions with stakeholders.

The USIBC, a group that also receives funding from pharmaceutical
companies, has revealed in its submission to the US Trade Representative
that it had conducted training for India’s patent examiners, a move that
compromises the independence of the patent examination system which was
designed with the social objective of stopping drug giants from indulging
in ‘evergreening’. Evergreening covers simple changes in the chemistry or
formulation of existing pharmaceutical products - a lucrative game for the
pharmaceutical business, but also a deadly one for patients: preventing
generic competition for these medicines.

Leena Menghaney
Mobile: 9811365412

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