India: IPR Think Tank draft IP policy - MSF comments on access and innovation
The IPR Think Tank was convened in November 2014 by Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion, Ministry of Commerce, Government of India, to draft a national IPR Policy for India.
A particular area of concern for health groups is IP policy making that impacts the pharmaceutical sector, as India is a key global supplier of affordable generic versions of drugs that otherwise would be out of reach for public health programmes, treatment providers and millions of people.
In November 2014, a letter to India's newly constituted IPR Think Tank signed by patient groups, public interest organisations, treatment providers and academia worldwide, raised critical issues around the IP system in India. In the context of heightened US pressure on India’s government, and in particular on India’s Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), the letter signatories opposed any re-opening of the discussion on patentability criteria, interpretation of Indian patent law, or the introduction of TRIPS-plus standards. Re-opening this discussion could provide multinational pharmaceutical companies and the US Trade Representative an opportunity to take forward their agenda to undermine generic competition from India and public health safeguards in India’s patent law. It would also undermine India's negotiating position in various bilateral and international forums.”
The first draft of the National IPR Policy was released in December 2014. In February 2015 MSF presented critical comments – written and oral – to the IPR Think Tank on the draft National IPR Policy, specifically on areas concerning IP, innovation and access to medicines.