India cannot achieve its ambitious goal of becoming a center for innovative growth by celebrating proposals related to intellectual property rights that undermine and drive away innovators, the US Chambers of Commerce has said.
“Consistent with the National intellectual property rights (IPR) Policy, when it comes to IP, India clearly has a toe in the water, but appears ambivalent about jumping in,” Patrick Kilbride, executive director of international intellectual property, US Chamber of Commerce, said Friday. “You cannot have it both ways. You cannot say you want to be a center of innovative growth and at the same time celebrate proposals that would undermine and drive away innovators,” he said.
He said India and the US had seemingly found a common ground at the Trade Policy Forum on aspects of trade secrets protection, copyright enforcement and patent administration. “This incremental yet important progress came hand in hand with statements associating India with an independent panel report from the UN that moves in the opposite direction. No country can have it both ways,” Kilbride said.
After the India-US Trade Policy Forum meeting last week, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman cited a UN report to “vindicate” India’s stand on not going beyond the commitments made in the global TRIPS Agreement.
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She said India was very clear that it is not ready to engage with anyone on ‘TRIPS plus’ issues which could lead to “ever-greening of patents or blocking of compulsory licenses”. Mark Elliot, executive vice president of the Global Intellectual Property Center at the US Chamber of Commerce said the UN High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines had issued a report that was never intended to address the true barriers of access to medicines. He said it was designed to drive a narrow and extreme agenda.
The Panel’s predetermined conclusions ignored decades of data and the input of nations in asserting that intellectual property is the problem with access to medicines, he alleged. “In doing so, the Panel ignored the real culprits that stand between patients and care: excessive tariffs and taxes on imported medicines, and weak healthcare infrastructures that hinder the effective distribution of medicines. The UN’s own data shows that intellectual property does not restrict access to medicines: 95 per cent of essential medicines are no longer under patent,” Elliot said.
“The irony is that by singling-out patents, this report has attacked the innovative systems that have produced thousands of cures and saved millions of lives,” he said. Decades of research have shown that the private sector is responsible for as much as 97 per cent of drug development. If adopted, these recommendations could prohibit the creation of future breakthrough treatments,” he said.
The UN Panel among other things called on governments to drastically restrict patentability of medical innovations, make liberal use of compulsory licenses to override patents, minimise the private sector role in the research and development of new cures and put the UN itself above national governments in oversight of intellectual property rights.