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  • Thursday, May 26, 2005

    Doctors Without Borders on the new Indian Patent Law

    From Medecins Sans Frontieres: MSF Statement On the New Indian Patent Bill

    March 23, 2005 - The Indian Parliament has passed a new law to become compliant with the World Trade Organization (WTO)'s Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is deeply concerned that the new law will result in people in the developing world being cut off from the vital source of affordable generic versions of essential medicines produced in India.

    To date, the supply of affordable medicines from India has only been possible because Indian law previously had no product patent constraints. This has been particularly important for the antiretroviral (ARV) medicines for the treatment of HIV. Of the 700,000 people estimated to be on ARV treatment in developing countries, approximately 50% rely on Indian generic production.

    The new law makes it easy for multinational pharmaceutical companies to get patents granted, while making it difficult for generic companies to get compulsory licenses to override patents when necessary for public health or other reasons. Although a "worst-case scenario" was averted in the passage of this law due to widespread civil society pressure within India and around the world - for example, generic medicines already on the market in India will still be able to be produced, even if patents are granted, although generic producers will be required to pay licensing fees to the patent owner - the law is deeply worrying for all new drugs that will be subject to patentability in India in the future...

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