Shutterstock / Anton Balazh
8 November 2022Staff Writer

NGOs attack UK’s ‘disastrous’ IP proposals to India

Humanitarian organisation  Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has lambasted IP provisions within a leaked chapter of the proposed UK-India free trade agreement (FTA).

MSF has  claimed that the IP provisions would “drastically harm access to affordable, lifesaving generic medicines from India, upon which millions of people around the world rely”.

The  leaked version of the IP chapter, available on, allegedly forms the UK’s opening proposals for the free trade agreement.

It suggests that pharma companies will be able to extend their monopolies beyond the 20-year patent term (evergreening) and that pre-grant procedures—which can be used to block unjustified patents before they are granted—will be shut down.

Leena Menghaney, South Asia head of MSF’s Access Campaign, said: “The UK’s demands are seeking to gut India’s patent and drug regulatory laws of the safeguards that make it a manufacturing powerhouse.

“The excessive measures included in the draft IP chapter of the UK-India FTA could jeopardise this.”

Menghaney added that these additional IP ‘hoops’ that generic manufacturers will have to jump through will have a “chilling effect on the country’s ability to supply millions of people around the world with affordable, lifesaving generic medicines”.

MSF is also a signatory to a  letter sent by health and development non-governmental organisations (NGOs)—including Oxfam GB and STOPAIDS—to the UK government, expressing concern over the IP provisions. They warned that the cost of NHS medicines, 25% of which are supplied by India, could be affected if the UK forces India to change its IP laws.

The letter said that “dangerous ‘TRIPS-plus’ measures” included new monopoly protections on clinical data used to prove a medicine is safe and effective and the removal of a requirement for patent owners to reveal to the Indian authorities information relating to relevant patent applications in other countries, in addition to evergreening and the removal of pre-grant procedures.

“A wide range of other terms in the document would further undermine vital public health safeguards that India has implemented via its intellectual property law,” said the NGOs. “It would be irresponsible for the UK government to seek to impose such terms in this trade agreement with India, in the knowledge it would reduce access to medicines and corrode health outcomes for patients of the NHS and around the world.”

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