‘India Seen as Outlier in Enforcing Patents’
PhRMA CEO Castellani says the grouping is open to dialogue between India and other stakeholders to address IP concerns
India’s intellectual property rights related decisions have affected the biopharma industry much more than the other sectors, says John J Castellani, CEO, PhRMA (Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America), a grouping of US-based drugmakers. In an e-mail interview, Castellani tells ET’s Soma Das that PhRMA members want strong patent laws in India. Edited excerpts: What are your reservations about India’s IPR policies? What changes are you looking for? The high investment in development of innovative medicines cannot be successful without necessary policy conditions to promote a favorable business environment. Effective patent protection is necessary for continued investments in innovative lifesaving drugs. All World Trade Organisation members have committed to ensuring favourable policy environment that supports continued research for new medicines through a system of patents. If countries show scant respect for IP protection, the future of new medicines is at risk, because incentives for the research- based pharmaceutical industry to invest over $ 1 billion and 10-15 years in the development of a single new medicine will be undermined. To truly improve access to medicines in India, we will need to continue to work together to advance sustainable policy solutions to healthcare financing, infrastructure, and human resources challenges, among others, rather than focus on compulsory licences or other ways of undermining patent protection of innovative medicines. Are US businesses divided on India’s IPR policy, considering that Honeywell and Boeing, in their testimonies to the US government, have backed the India’s policy? The current system for intellectual property protection provides the necessary incentives for innovators in all fields of technology to devote time and resources in creating the next generation of products and services for the global economy. That said, negative IP decisions in India have targeted the innovative biopharmaceutical industry far greater than other sectors. Abbott, the largest drugmaker in India by market share, has also said that it is not facing any significant challenges in India. Do the Big
ON INDIA’S IPR POLICIES
Pharma companies differ on the magnitude of challenge here? While Abbott is not a member of PhRMA, their response to the USITC is in the public domain and states: “The Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement provides an important framework for that protection and it is important that all World Trade Organisation members meet their obligations under TRIPS. Abbott is not currently facing any significant challenges with respect to intellectual property protection in India.” We don’t see any dissonance in this view. India’s pharma industry believes that Pfizer is getting isolated in its campaign against India’s IPR policies. What are your views? All our member companies believe that strong patent laws will encour- age and sustain innovation in the research-based and technologyintensive pharmaceuticals industry. Pfizer, like our other member companies, remains committed to collaborating with the Indian government and other stakeholders to find sustainable solutions that address the need for more accessible medicines, within a robust IP environment. Will a potential trade war between the two resolve anything at all? No one is suggesting a trade war. The US and India are great friends, but even very good friends have disagreements. This is one place where we believe that a fruitful dialogue can help both countries, and especially Indian patients. Are you saying that at this stage you will support the dialogue route and not push for trade sanctions, as is being widely believed? We have always said that we are committed to a dialogue with the Indian government and other stakeholders to find sustainable solutions to address industry’s intellectual property concerns, as well as India’s broader healthcare challenges. What then is the best way for US and India to resolve this issue? We hope the Indian government will be open to the concerns raised by the US and demonstrate seriously its commitment to protecting intellectual property. Challenges to the IP ecosystem in India are being seen as a serious concern to the future climate for innovation across several sectors. India is being seen as an outlier in recognising and enforcing patent rights, and this perception could weaken India’s investment climate. Our members remain committed to collaborating with the Indian government and other stakeholders in finding sustainable solutions that address the need for more accessible medicines within a robust IP environment.