‘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

The Economic Times - - Companies -

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


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.

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