Dear Mrs. Sitharaman, Mr. Kant, Mr. Kher, Mr. Aggarwal,
India’s role in ensuring global access to life-saving medicines is vital. India is often referred to as the ‘pharmacy of the developing world’ because of its critical role in providing affordable generic medicines for use in India and across the world. Read DNP+ Statement here
The Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) has recently launched the ‘Make in India’ Campaign, which has the potential to further promote and encourage the manufacture and supply of affordable generic medicines from India, but could also backfire if stronger intellectual property (IP) provisions are introduced as part of the effort.
As patients who rely on a life-long supply of quality generic medicines to stay alive, we are intimately aware that IP barriers undermine the availability of low-cost, life-saving medicines ‘made in India’ and the future of the generic industry in India altogether.
After India started implementing the WTO TRIPS Agreement ten years ago, we have watched with concern as new cancer medicines that have been patented one by one are being ‘merely imported’ in small quantities and launched at an exorbitant monthly cost of Rs. 1 lakh to 1.5 lakh (1500-2300 USD) per patient. In the absence of local generic production, caused by IP barriers such as 20 year product patents, there is no ‘Make in India,’ and new cancer medicines are now priced out of reach of patients and publicly-funded cancer hospitals.
The introduction of a product patent system in 2005 has made India dependent on expensive imported patented medicines, despite the existence of an indigenous pharmaceutical industry with the capacity of low-cost production. Already patent monopolies stop Indian generic companies from making many new drugs. Introducing additional IP barriers will not promote ‘Make in India’ in the area of pharmaceuticals.
Our letter outlining the details of our submission on the ‘Make in India’ Campaign is attached for your kind attention.
President Delhi Network of Positive People (DNP+)