In the US Trade Representative (USTR) 2014 ‘Special 301 Report’ released on April 30, India remains on the Priority Watch List as in previous years for what the USTR considers to be inadequate protection of intellectual property.
USTR has also announced a more in-depth investigation into Indian patent law (called an Out-of-Cycle Review), through which it will maintain ongoing and increased pressure on India.
Industry observers point out that India, the world’s principal producer and supplier of quality generic medicines, has in recent years repeatedly been singled out by the US government and the multinational pharmaceutical industry on grounds of insufficient enforcement of intellectual property.
An MSF release defends India’s stance pointing out that what the country is doing when it seeks to limit patent evergreening (where companies file multiple patents in a bid to ever-extend monopolies), or when it authorises the sale of a generic version of an expensive patented medicine through the use of compulsory licenses, is entirely within global trade rules, and these actions save lives. Other countries are now considering similar legislation replicating the Indian model. The US pharmaceutical industry and USTR are clearly worried and are now seeking to curb India’s influence on global patent reform efforts that have the potential to increase access to medicines for millions in need in developing countries.
Reacting to the USTR’s listing, Judit Rius Sanjuan, US Manager, Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders’ Access Campaign, said, “The US Trade Rep is throwing every single intimidation and pressure tactic it has at its disposal at India. This is just the latest example of how USTR is attempting to penalise India for not bowing to the endless efforts of the multinational pharma industry to severely restrict generic competition in India and world-wide. The USTR is painting India as a rogue government, when in fact every action in India’s efforts to secure access to affordable, lifesaving medicines is fully consistent with global trade rules. India is playing by the rules, and USTR knows it. India’s policies have saved lives. It’s an example that should be followed, not criticised.”
EP News Bureau– Mumbai