360b /
28 January 2015Americas

Non-profits urge Obama to promote Indian drugs

A group of health organisations has urged US President Barack Obama to support India as a provider of low-cost generic medicines around the world.

In an open letter, dated January 20, the 14 bodies have claimed that the “world is safer and healthier because of India’s pro-health stance”, and have asked Obama to say so publicly during his visit.

The letter was signed by organisations including Health GAP (Global Access Project), Oxfam America and amFAR (American Foundation for AIDS Research).

It was designed to tie in with a three day visit by Obama to India, which took place from January 25 to 27.

India’s IP regime has come under fire from the US in recent years. In the latest issue of its annual Special 301 Report, the US government again placed India on its ‘priority watch list’, and highlighted the pharmaceutical sector as one of the most problematic areas.

In a visit to India last November, US Trade Representative Michael Froman urged the country to strengthen its IP laws.

Section 3(d) of India’s patent law does not allow the patenting of new forms of known substances that fail to enhance the substance’s efficacy, a practice sometimes called ‘evergreening’.

Some Western companies have seen this as a higher bar to innovation and the reason for some pharma businesses being denied patent protection for their drugs.

Most recently, the Indian Patent Office refused a patent to protect Gilead’s hepatitis C drug Sovaldi.

In the letter, the groups wrote that big drug companies are “taking aim against ‘section 3(d)’ of India’s patent law, adding that it complies with the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) TRIPS Agreement.

“We know industry is pushing you to pressure India to go beyond its WTO obligations to adopt ‘data exclusivity’, rules which make clinical trial data submitted to pubic regulators into another right, creating a monopoly barrier to generic registration and competition even where there is no patent,” the letter said.

“Dropping section 3(d) and adopting data exclusivity would reward some of the world’s most profitable companies, not for innovation but simply for having effective lawyers and lobbyists. And it would damage the health of millions,” it added.

Obama visited India from January 25 to 27. It was his second visit to India as president, and the first in which Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in office.

While no great strides were made in Obama and Modi’s discussions about India’s IP regime, a White House statement did say that India and the US “reiterated their interest in sharing information and best practices on IPR issues, and reaffirmed their commitment to stakeholders’ consultations on policy matters concerning IP protection”.

Already registered?

Login to your account

To request a FREE 2-week trial subscription, please signup.
NOTE - this can take up to 48hrs to be approved.

Two Weeks Free Trial

For multi-user price options, or to check if your company has an existing subscription that we can add you to for FREE, please email Adrian Tapping at