By Divya Rajagopal, The Economic Times | May 23, 2017
MUMBAI: Remember Ron the rodeo cowboy from the Oscar-winning film Dallas Buyers Club? The biopic portrayed the story of Ron Woodroof, an AIDS patient in the mid-1980s who signed up for an experimental AIDS treatment movement. He smuggled unapproved drugs into Texas for treating his symptoms and distributed them to fellow patients at a time when the disease was highly stigmatised. There’s now an Australian parallel, of sorts, with an Indian twist.
Australian Greg Jefferys, 62, is the unlikely protagonist of this story. Himself a Hepatitis C survivor, Jefferys has become a Ron for several who suffer from the potentially fatal viral infection. And just like Ron, who didn’t back off in the face of resistance from US regulators, Jefferys’ crusade has been equally relentless.
The Lancet Commission on Essential Medicines Policies rightfully addresses the need to guarantee access to essential medicines for all. However, we cannot achieve any real progress without acknowledging that the current patent-based business model and the way we apply international patent rules need to change. The system is broken.
Let’s look at the business model ﬁrst. Sofosbuvir based medicines are an important breakthrough in the treatment of patients with chronic hepatitis C. The problem is that one-time treatment costs between €48 000 and €96 000 in high-income countries (2015 prices). There are an estimated 20 000 patients with this disease in the Netherlands, and there are millions of people with hepatitis C virus infection throughout the world. When we take a look at the development and clinical trial costs of these products, the current prices appear even more outrageous. Manufacturer Gilead Sciences Inc invested an estimated US$12 billion in the rights and development costs of sofosbuvir. Gilead Sciences Inc has already accumulated over $35 billion in global revenue from sofosbuvir-based hepatitis C medicines since their launch in December, 2013, and it anticipates about $20 billion annually in the years to come.3 This revenue will largely be based on the protection and exclusivity of its patents. Continue reading
I am grateful to the Dr. N.S. Gopalakrishnan for inviting me to inaugurate this workshop, the theme being “Pharmaceuticals and patents.” This is a very important one today when there is a claim for a strong patent regime. But I must stress that a strong patent regime is not antithetical to public interest or public health, just as concern for human rights of the accused is not antithetical nor in negation of the human rights of the victims, and human rights are common to all. Any judicial authority must discharge its duties in accordance with the Constitution. That is our Basic Document. Art.21 is the Right to Life. The Supreme Court has expanded the meaning of this far beyond just life, to include a life with dignity with equal right to education, medicines, health etc; in short everything that makes our life complete. We must read the Patents Act too with our Constitution in mind, and in fact the IPAB has adopted a motto and logo which reads as “balancing IP protection.” So Right to Health and Access to Medicines cannot be ignored and among the various angles through which this right can be inbuilt into the Patents Act, compulsory license is one. To touch every subject would have made my speech lose focus, and hence I have chosen this and examined how countries across the world have used this tool in their national interest. Continue reading
By Divya Rajagopal, The Economic Times|May 14, 2017
Let’s hark back to the Nineties. The HIV-AIDS epidemic was spreading across Africa, leaving thousands dead, in spite of the existence of anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs).
The cost of the treatment, around $10,000, was prohibitive. Africa, with 7 million patients, was a market none of the top multinational pharmaceutical majors with patented drugs, wanted to address. This stranglehold was broken at the turn of the millennium — by generic players like Indian pharma major CiplaBSE -0.06 %, led by its fiery promoter Yusuf Hamied, who decided to supply generic versions of ARVs at $1 a day to the African market. That was 2001. Retaliation from Big Pharma (a term used to describe the world’s top 20 pharmaceutical companies) came through patent litigations in Indian and international trade courts, and branding Indian drug companies as thieves who stole intellectual property to make profits. Seeds of doubt on the quality of India-made drugs were sown among doctors, discouraging them from prescribing generic medications. There is no doubt who won the battle, though. Today India supplies 90% of the ARV drugs across the world. Continue reading
Source: inquirer.net | May 17, 2017
On May 2-12, the 16 member-countries of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) met in Manila for their 18th round of negotiations to craft a multilateral trade deal that would affect half of the world’s population. With the demise of the US-led Trans Pacific Partnership, the RCEP, comprising the 10 Asean members and China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand, now looms as the most significant regional trade bloc to emerge in recent years. Continue reading