21 August 2010
By Kounteya Sinha
New Delhi, India
Against Raising Of Patent Period For Life–Saving Meds
Reacting to the note, Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said, "We will in no way support the increasing of patent period of life–saving drugs for over 20 years. "
In a note circulated a month ago, the PMO has sought views from the ministry of commerce, health and department of legal affairs on the proposal to review Section 3(d) of the Indian Patents Act. According to this section, a mere discovery of a new form of a known substance, which does not result in the enhancement of the known efficacy of that substance, is not patentable.
This clause seeks to foil any bid by drug giants from extending the patent on drugs beyond 20 years by passing off minor modifications in pharmalogical compositions as discoveries having the potential to enhance healing properties.
President of Indian Drug Manufacturers Association N R Munjal had a similar view.
Speaking to TOI, Mr Munjal said "We are certain there will be no further review of section 3(d) of the Indian Patents Act. If anybody even tries to bring it up, we will fight tooth and nail to oppose it. Changing this section will be tremendously detrimental to the health of India’s generic drug industry. "
Significantly, Munjal was confident that any attempt to change the Patent Act could never pass muster. "It is not that the PMO is seeking to amend the section. It was a proposal of the Organization of Pharmaceutical Producers in India (OPPI) submitted to the PMO after discussion with global MNCs like Novartis, BMS, Eli Lilly and Pfizer. Since the PMO is not an expert in this field, they sent it to the ministries to take a look. Extending the life of a patent is not possible and will never get through. "
Dr Gopa Kumar Nair, an authority in patents said when a delegation of MNCs meet the PM, the latter has to forward the representation received to various ministries. "That’s exactly what the PMO has done. It does not mean they endorse it. If the section is reviewed and amended then a lot of non–patentable products will squeeze into the Indian market with a monopoly. "
The health minister opposes a move to revise a section of the Indian Patents Act, which says the discovery of a new form of a substance that does not enhance its known efficacy is not patentable. This clause bars drug giants from passing off minor changes as discoveries