[Ip-health] Indian CSO letter to PM Modi on Public Health Safeguards in the Patents Act and the US-India Trade Deal

K.M. Gopakumar kumargopakm at gmail.com
Sun Sep 22 12:28:20 PDT 2019

Date: 20th Sep 2019

To,The Prime Minister, ShriNarendra Modi,

Prime Minister Office,

South Block, Raisina Hill

New Delhi-110011

Re: Public Health Safeguards in the Patents Act and the US-India Trade Deal

Dear Prime Minister,

We, as experts and civil society organizations, working on the issues of
health, intellectual property (IP), trade, and access to medicines are
writing to you with regard to your visit to the United States of
America(US), to draw your attention towards certain pertinent issues.

We have learned that there is a proposal to conclude a trade deal as well
as eventual initiation of negotiations on Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with
the US, raising serious concerns on issues regarding access to medicines
and medical devices. We are also aware that the US has requested the
Government of India to carry out specific amendments to the Indian Patents
Act. This is a matter of grave concern. Millions of people in India, state
governments and the Ministry of Health rely on domestically produced
affordable generic medicines, devices and vaccines to prevent and treat
communicable and non-communicable diseases. As you are aware, India is ‘the
pharmacy of the world’ for the pivotal role that it plays in supplying
affordable medicines and vaccines used throughout the world.

 We are highly concerned about the harmful effects that the United States
proposal will have on our capacity to act as an important actor in global
health. Since 2003, over twenty million people living with HIV in
developing countries have received treatment for HIV and AIDS, largely due
to the availability of safe, effective and affordable generic ARVs from
India. A decision to start FTA negotiations with the United States
government would inevitably lead to proposals on intellectual property that
will go beyond India’s obligations under the Trade Related Aspects of
Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and dilute the legal flexibilities
available to India to safeguard the vital competition that Indian
manufacturers provide to lower prices of essential pharmaceutical products.

Similarly, US demands on diluting the price control mechanism seriously
threaten India’s ability to ensure affordable medicines and medical devices
to its people. US demands on price control and intellectual property
threaten India’s public health friendly patent laws and compromise the
Government’s ability to fulfil its obligations on right to health which is
part of Article 21 of our Constitution. Earlier this year, the US withdrew
benefits extended to India under the Generalized System of Preferences
(GSP), which was an attempt to strong-arm India to change its IP policies
to suit US interests. However, India stood up to the bullying and responded
to the US that these were domestic sovereign issue with a promise to its

“India, like the US and other nations shall always uphold its national
interest in these matters. We have significant development imperatives and
concerns and our people also aspire for better standards of living. This
will remain the guiding factor in the Government’s approach.[1] <#_ftn1>

We therefore strongly urge you to uphold the above stand and to:

·      Reject any US proposal to negotiate a US-India FTA in the future as
it puts at stake the pharmaceutical sector and domestic production of
life-saving, essential medical products.

·      Ignore any proposals to amend Indian Patents Act

·      Actively protect and diplomatically defend the policy space to
impose price caps on medicines and medical devices.

Yours sincerely,

Prathibha SivasubramanianSenior

 Legal Researcher, TWN

 1.Dr Sylvia Karpagam, Public health doctor and researcher2.Dr AmarJesani,
Independent Consultant;Editor Indian Journal of Medical Ethics3.Eldred
Tellis, Mumbai4.Dr Dhananjaya Saranath, Cancer Patients Aid
Association5.Latha LR6.Global Coalition of TB Activists7.Prabir KC,
Independent Public Health Consultant, Kolkata8.Achal Prabhala, Convener of
the AccessIBSA Project9.Prof. Srividhya Ragavan, Professor of Law,Texas A&M
School of Law, Fort Worth, TX10.Dr. Anant Phadke,All India Drug Action
Network, Pune11.Dr Vandana Prasad12.S.Srinivasan,Lowcost Standard
Therapeutics(LOCOST), Vadodara13.Prof. Mohan Rao, Independent Researcher,
Bangalore; Former Professor, Centre of Social Medicine and Community
Health, Jawaharlal Nehru University.14.Dr Shakeel Ur Rahman, The Centre for
Health And Resource Management (CHARM)15.Third World Network16.Shirin Syed,
Research Scholar, North Maharashtra University17.Mathew Mattam, Youth Aid
Foundation18.All India Drug Action Network. 19.Prof Dinesh Abrol, National
Working Group on Patent Laws20.TK Sundari Ravindran, Retired Professor,
Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences andTechnology,
Trivandrum21.Arnesh Nag, Law Student, Symbiosis Law School, Noida22.Shreya
Munoth, Lawyer, Delhi.23.Ganesh Acharya, TB Survivor, TB/HIV Activist,
Mumbai, India24.Mumbai Aids Forum, Mumbai25.All India Peoples' Science
Network26.TheDelhi Network of Positive People (DNP+)27.International
Treatment Preparedness Coalition -South Asia28.Community Network for
Empowerment (CoNE), Manipur29.Sikkim Drug Users Forum (SDUF)30.Hepatitis
Coalition of Sikkim (HepCoS)31.Sahara Aalhad 32.Prof. Imrana Qadeer,
Distinguished Professor, Council for Social Development, New
Delhi33.Santosh MR,Asst. Professor and Public Health Researcher34.Vikash
Prakash,Azim Premji University, Bangalore Development (Public Health)35.Jan
Swasthya Abhiyan36.Cancer Patient Aid Association


[1] <#_ftnref1> 1Press Information Bureau, Government of India, Withdrawal
of India’sGSP benefits by USA, June 01, 2019 available at

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