[Ip-health] Global NGO urges India to be careful on trade agreement with US

Roshan JOSEPH Roshan.JOSEPH at geneva.msf.org
Sun Feb 9 22:41:29 PST 2020

Times of India Report

MUMBAI: Ahead of the USTR's visit to India for a potential trade deal, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), international humanitarian agency, has urged the government to be careful about negotiations on "damaging policies" aimed at changing the country's pro-access intellectual property and regulatory laws.
India may be "pushed to negotiate harmful provisions", which could hamper access of medicines to millions across the world. India, often referred as the pharmacy of the developing world, has encountered pressure in the past from the USTR for the country's strict patentability criteria, compulsory licensing provisions, and rejection of data exclusivity.

"The USTR's policies hamper the ability of countries to ensure the protection of public health and promotion of access to medicines", MSF said in a global submission to USTR Robert Lighthizer, in response to '2020 Special 301 Report'.

The Special 301 report is an annual exercise which puts countries on watch lists, in line with its powerful pharmaceutical industry demands that governments should not make use of public health safeguards in intellectual property and regulatory laws, experts say.

"The USTR recently concluded a trade agreement (phase 1) with China which is detrimental to its role as the major producer of active pharmaceutical ingredients and growing importance in finished formulations at the global level. It has pressured China to adopt patent term extensions and patent linkage. USTR is likely to seek a similar agreement with India if the current mini trade deal goes through. The pharmaceutical sector is already going through a crisis with many new medicines patented, which cannot enter the market from domestic manufacturers. MSF has further made note of the USTR's recent visit to India for a potential trade deal and is urging the Indian government to watch out for any damaging policies that are aimed at changing the country's pro-access intellectual property and regulatory laws", Leena Menghaney of MSF Access Campaign said.

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