Source: South Centre
5 March 2014
Unilateral US actions targeting India’s Intellectual Property Laws undermines the Legitimacy of the WTO
Geneva, 4 March 2014
South Centre Calls on WTO Members to Respect the Legitimacy of the Use of TRIPS Flexibilities for Public Health in light of New Threats of Unilateral Trade Measures by the United States against India over its Intellectual Property Laws and Regulations
The South Centre is deeply concerned that developing countries, and more recently the government of India, are facing increasing pressure from the United States of America to reform their intellectual property (IP) laws. The Indian IP laws include balanced provisions to ensure that IP rights do not hinder the ability of the government to adopt measures for promoting development priorities, particularly in the area of public health. These are fully in line with the TRIPS Agreement and reaffirmed by the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health.
The United States International Trade Commission (USITC) has initiated investigations against India on trade, investment and industrial policies in India particularly on intellectual property protection and enforcement. Moreover, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is being asked to include India as a priority foreign country in the Special 301 review for 2014, at the request of US industry associations including Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), the National Manufacturers Association (NAM), the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC), the US Chamber of Commerce’s Global Intellectual Property Centre, and the Alliance for Fair Trade with India (AFTI), alleging lack of adequate and effective protection of intellectual property rights (IPRs).
04 March 2014
Abstract Africa has the highest disease burden in the world and continues to depend on pharmaceutical imports to meet public health needs. As Asian manufacturers of generic medicines begin to operate under a more protectionist intellectual property regime, their ability to manufacture medicines at prices that are affordable to poorer countries is becoming more circumscribed. The Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health gives member states of the World Trade Organization (WTO) the right to adopt legislation permitting the use of patented material without authorization by the patent holder, a provision known as “compulsory licensing”. For African countries to take full advantage of compulsory licensing they must develop substantial local manufacturing capacity. Because building manufacturing capacity in each African country is daunting and almost illusory, an African free trade area should be developed to serve as a platform not only for the free movement of goods made pursuant to compulsory licences, but also for an economic or financial collaboration towards the development of strong pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity in the continent. Most countries in Africa are in the United Nations list of least developed countries, and this allows them, under WTO law, to refuse to grant patents for pharmaceuticals until 2021. Thus, there is a compelling need for African countries to collaborate to build strong pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity in the continent now, while the current flexibilities in international intellectual property law offer considerable benefits.
Please read the paper here.
Source: The Economist
04 March 2014
The burden of cancer is falling increasingly heavily on the poor
SARA STULAC is a paediatrician, but doctors in Rwanda must be adaptable. One of her first patients after arriving from America in 2005 was a young girl with a tumour the size of a cauliflower on her face. The girl’s father, a subsistence farmer, had tried traditional healers and local doctors, but the tumour had grown, along with his expenses. An oncologist was needed. If only the country had one. Eventually Dr Stulac called one in America who talked her through the treatment that would save the girl’s life.
What makes this story unusual is its happy ending. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of the World Health Organisation (WHO), low- and middle-income countries accounted for 57% of the 14m people diagnosed with cancer worldwide in 2012—but 65% of the deaths. Cancer kills more people in poor countries than AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined.
Residents of poor countries have long suffered from cancers, such as those of the liver and cervix, that are associated with infections. But as they have grown richer, drinking, smoking and fatty foods have led to more breast, colorectal and lung cancer. Women who used to die in childbirth now live long enough to develop breast cancer. HIV patients on antiretroviral drugs are dying of other causes.
Glass-half-full types view this as a success. But resources have not shifted with the burden of disease. Many developing countries have no trained oncologists, let alone a treatment centre. Even where care is available, the sick often delay because they are poor or do not know that treatment is urgent. Some languages have no word for cancer.
NEW DELHI: Amid heightened scrutiny of the intellectual property regime, the government has decided to tread with caution on a compulsory licence for a cancer drug to ensure that its decision is in line with the legal provisions.
While compulsory licencing, which entails waiver of patent under extreme situations, for three cancer drugs was being pushed by the health ministry, the issue is now limited to Dasatinib, a medicine to treat a type of cancer of the white blood cells, for which Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) holds a patent.
Sources said that the commerce and industry ministry recently wrote to the health ministry, rejecting the plea that the government should issue a compulsory licence under section 92 of the Patents Act. Using this provision, the government can only waive the BMS’s patent rights in case of a national emergency or a circumstance of extreme urgency, which was not the case at the moment.There is a third possibility as well, which is to suspend the rights for public non-commercial use in special circumstances, including public health crisis. In fact, the Patents Act has listed AIDS, HIV, tuberculosis, malaria and other epidemics as examples.
Sources said that in case of Dasatinib, this provision may be used but then the health ministry has to clearly show that it has the budget to procure the medicine and supply it under a plan for cancer patients. “You can’t expect a manufacturer to sell the medicine below cost,” said a source.
Source: Times of India
27 Feb 2014
MUMBAI: Industrialist Anand Mahindra is throwing a million-dollar challenge to solve two of India’s most pervasive and intractable problems—traffic stress and electricity shortages. The chairman of the automobile-to-aerospaceMahindra Group is calling for competitive pitch to develop a driverless car and a do-it-yourself solar power kit from desi innovators.
This is part of Mahindra’s first edition of the $1 million ‘Rise Prize’—being unveiled on National Science Day later this week—to spur breakthrough Indian innovation which captures the mainstream imagination.
The boss of the $16 billion Mahindra Group hopes the new recognition—at Rs 6.2 crore, it’s one of the heftiest awards in terms of prize money—would foster scientific thought that is aspirational and has potential to change everyday Indian life.
“We have to set our own benchmark or metrics to value innovations which impact a part of our lives. Our best minds are used to looking for recognition outside India. The objective is to trigger disruptive innovation in the country,” Mahindra told TOI.
The inaugural Rise Prize will see Mahindra posing two challenges—a $700,000 one aimed at building a driverless car for the congested domestic roads, and a $300,000 challenge to develop a solar DIY kit for household energy needs.
Internet giant Google has been pioneering a project developing technology for self driving cars. Its lead engineer Sebastain Thurn and his team at Stanford created the vehicle prototype after winning a $2 million prize from the US Department of Defence.
“The twin challenges have been selected on the basis of relevance to society, potential to create disproportionate impact, scalability and probability of causing a multiplier effect in allied areas,” Mahindra said. “We hope this will ignite ecosystem building and change societal mindset. This is going beyond jugaad, or making do,” he added.
The competition will be launched on February 28 and candidates at all stages of technological readiness can apply. The first edition will have a timeline of 24-36 months split into three phases—first 90 days for submitting proposals, followed by prototype creation and real world demonstration.
Source: Times of India
26 Feb 2014
NEW DELHI: The government is set to ask all its officials to stay away from any interaction with a delegation from the US International Trade Commission (USITC), a quasi-judicial agency, probing the impact of India’s trade and investment regime on the American economy in what is seen as the latest sore point in economic ties between the two countries.
The move follows a meeting in the ministry of external affairs on Friday and comes after the government took the view that its laws and policies are its sovereign functions, while the US actions are unilateral. “The hearings relate to our patents regime and industrial and trade policies, which are governed by multilateral agreements, of which the US is also a signatory. So, if there is a dispute, it has to be settled at a multilateral forum like the WTO. No country can apply its own law extra-territorially,” said an official privy to the discussions.
As a result, it has been decided that the USITC’s request for meetings with officials in close to a dozen department will be turned down, leaving it with the option to hold talks with private companies and industry bodies.
Following an authorization by the Senate Finance Committee and the House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee, USITC is on a “fact-finding” mission and is looking at all Indian policies and tariffs since 2003 that support local industries and may discriminate against US imports, investment and jobs. In addition, there is focus on foreign direct investment (FDI) and intellectual property rights (IPR).
Source: Time of India
25 Feb 2014
India has also been disturbed by the proposed visit by US international trade commission to probe the fallout of India’s trade and investment policies on the US economy.
NEW DELHI: India-US ties are under stress again — this time over trade and investment — according to the government.
With calls in the US for designating India a priority foreign country (PFC), the worst downgrading of status by the US trade representative for inability to protect IPRs, the government is accusing US authorities of intimidating the Union health ministry over the issue of compulsory licences — which allow local firms to manufacture patented drugs – and simultaneously preventing other developing countries from acting against evergreening of drug patents.
A PFC tag can allow the US to impose unilateral sanctions against India for domestic laws which deny benefits to the US under any trade agreement. Government sources here said there seemed to be a two-fold agenda behind the “cacophony” emanating from the US.
“Pressure is being created on India’s health ministry to not consider drugs for compulsory licences and at the same time there is also a deliberate attempt to use India to scare away other developing countries like Indonesia and Brazil from introducing legislation to prevent evergreening of drug patents, like section 3 (d) of Indian Patents Act (IPA),” said a source.