Commerce Secretary S. R. Rao has asserted that global firms, including Swiss drug major Novartis AG, have benefited more from the country’s rules.

Mr. Rao said: “You would appreciate that more than 80 per cent of patents registered in India are attributed to non-Indians. Multi-national pharmaceutical companies such as Novartis have been major beneficiaries of India’s patent regime which is evident in the fact that Novartis has 147 patents registered in its name in India.”

In his letter to Mr. Sharma, the Novartis AG CEO Joseph Jimenez had alleged that India’s intellectual property (IP) protection environment was deteriorating and that the government followed discriminatory practices in several sectors including pharmaceuticals. “In terms of IP protection for pharmaceuticals specifically, it is disturbing that there has been a series of patent revocations/refusal to grant patents for well-established innovative medicines, including our own product Glivec,” Mr. Jimenez had said.

Mr. Rao said companies such as Novartis had a long association with the Indian market and that Novartis should not create an unfair impression about India. “I would suggest a balanced and objective approach of appreciating the mutually constructive role that we can play together rather than isolating one instance to create an unfair impression,” the letter said. He said that India was perfectly within its rights to issue compulsory licences (CL). Unlike developed countries, he said, India had never used executive discretion to issue compulsory licenses. “I suggest that opinions should be formed on the basis of facts and not on speculation,” he said.

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