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India patent war forces Roche into submission of Herceptin patent

post Tuesday October 22, 2013

Tags: india, ipa, patents

pharmaceutical capsules - freedigitalphotos

Pharmaceutical intellectual property (IP) seems increasingly harder to maintain on Indian ground. In August 2013, Roche was forced to pull its patents for the breast-cancer drug Herceptin. The voluntary concession of the patent lasting until 2019 to public use was nonetheless the result of governmental pressure from Indian authorities.

A pondered decision

After an Indian health ministry committee called for governmental intervention that would ultimately bludgeon Roche into submitting the patent for a best-selling drug to a domestic producer of generic pharmaceuticals, Roche finally yielded the patent for public usage. According to Roche, this was a decision driven by “the strength of the particular rights and the IP environment in India in general”.

The government’s seeming prosecution of pharmaceutical intellectual property signifies an effort to increase access to medicine in a country where a majority does not have contact with expensive drugs. The so called “patent war” against the near-trillion dollar pharmaceutical industry has been dragging for a long time with large multinationals like Novartis and Bayer having lost battles lasting several years.

Is India following legal parameters? In fact, it is. So far, all patent decisions have been taken under the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), pioneering a daring stance before pharmaceutical firms.

Today and tomorrow

Several human and patient rights organizations have called for liberalization of medicine access to the poor, bringing pharmaceuticals the ever-standing reputation of profit-seeking, greedy corporations. On the other hand India is one of the largest producers of generic pharmaceuticals in the world.

But as India represents one of the world’s largest potential consumption markets for medicine, pharmaceuticals are faced with diminished profit perspectives, while R&D costs continue to rise. All things considered, the patent-enabled monopoly would be the calm after the storm and the rewarding factor for the large research and test investments that are required before a new medicine can be released.

India has, thus far, been the only country to adopt such aggressive measures toward IP. How will it affect the patients long term? India has thus far issued its first and single compulsory license – permission for domestic firms to produce low cost generics in exchange for a fee to the patent owner – in March 2012, for a Bayer-held drug patent. The fact stands, nevertheless, that patents are the only assurance research is conducted, upkeeping new cures for patients worldwide.

US urge change of policy

The US-India Business Council (USIBC) has warned India about the detrimental effects of its current policy on IP. In a closed meeting between Indian Finance Minister Chidambaram and the USIBC the main topics were the tax approach of India toward foreign investors and the protection of IP.

Further talks will be held in the continuing trade relations between US and India, with USIBC president Ron Somers expressing his hopes for a less aggressive stance from India that would increase willingness for US-sourced FDI in India.

Sources: Forbes, IndustryWeek, TheGuardian, EconomicTimes

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Comments on 'India patent war forces Roche into submission of Herceptin patent' (1)

Patent Attorney

Did they at least say "thank you"?

Practices like these may seem reasonable, in the short term. However, we will never know the drugs NOT developed (and lives not saved) because of such stealing of technology.

I love India, but ... what losers. Can't develop the drug themselves, and will not pay the cost it took another to develop them. Pure theft.

Geplaatst door Gary Baker op Thursday 24 October 2013