Source: Business Line
WASHINGTON, AUG 15:
Asserting there is no hostile climate in India either to innovation or to the US-based companies, Indian Ambassador to the US, Nirupama Rao, has said the Government has worked hard to balance the rights of patent holders with the urgent need for improved health care.
For more than six decades, India has issued only one compulsory licence on a compound pharmaceutical, Rao wrote in an Op-Ed in ‘The Hill’ newspaper yesterday.
“This is hardly evidence of a climate hostile to either innovation or US-based companies. The provisions for compulsory licensing are not meant to hamper the process of innovation, but to ensure a fair balance between the interests of innovators and the urgent need for improved health care,” she said.
In the Op-Ed,’India honors — not dishonors — patent laws’, Rao said the most prominently cited example of alleged patent infringement is actually a case study in patent protection.
In a landmark judgment in April, the Indian Supreme Court turned down a request by the pharmaceutical company Novartis to retain the patent on a cancer drug because it judged the drug to be an extension of existing medications, not a groundbreaking advancement, she said.
The court reinforced the premium that should rightly be placed on truly valid patents, strengthening, not weakening, their sanctity, she said.
India makes a priority of complying with international treaties such as the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement of the World Trade Organisation, Rao said.
In March, an Indian patent appeals court ruled that the so-called compulsory license law that helps make medicines affordable for the 300 million Indians who live below the poverty line, was strictly TRIPS-compliant, she noted.
“India’s rigorous patent laws and adherence to international trade treaties are helping its 1. 2 billion people deal with many challenges,” Rao said.
Direct equity investments from the US to India have continued to flow, ranging between $1 billion and $2 billion a year over the last five years and these investments have been across multiple sectors, including pharmaceutical research, Rao added.
From 2005 to 2011, more than 4,000 patents for pharmaceutical inventions were issued by the Patent Office. Of those, substantial numbers — 20-30 per cent — were awarded to US-based companies each year, and more than 85 per cent were owned by foreign companies in India, she noted.
“In their Strategic Partnership, the US and India cooperate on many fronts, with health care, disease control and prevention near the top of the list. India is dedicated to enhancing that partnership through its careful backing of patent law,” Rao said.
India is proud to be the world’s largest producer of generic drugs with a 25 per cent global market share, which has earned the country the name of ‘the pharmacy of the world’, Rao said.