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U.S. Trade Representative again places India on ‘watch list’

Many pills and tablets on black background for decorate and design project.

Many pills and tablets on black background for decorate and design project.  

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative has once again placed India on ‘Priority Watch List’ in its annual Special 301 Report on the state of intellectual property protection.

The report has slammed the Indian health ministry for “creating uncertainty in the pharmaceutical market” by demanding that pharmaceutical companies provide details of how they were using the granted patents.

The latest report states: “India remains on the Priority Watch List this year for long-standing challenges in its IP framework and lack of sufficient measurable improvements, particularly with respect to patents, copyrights, trade secrets, and enforcement, as well as for new issues that have negatively affected U.S. right holders over the past year.”

The report comes at a time when the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has demanded the elimination of ‘Form 27’ — a statutory requirement unique to India’s patent law that mandates patent holders to declare how a monopoly is being exercised in the country.

The report called India’s implementation of the patent act as restrictive. “Companies across different sectors remain concerned about narrow patentability standards, the potential threat of compulsory licensing and patent revocations, as well as overly broad criteria for issuing such licenses and revocations under the India Patents Act,” it says.

Reacting the report, humanitarian aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) said it unfairly targeted India at the urging of pharmaceutical corporations as the country is the “pharmacy of the developing world” and supplies affordable quality generic medicines globally.

“At a time when people all over the world are struggling to afford their medicines, it’s outrageous that the U.S. government is doing pharma’s bidding and bullying other countries into taking actions that would restrict generic competition and limit access to affordable, lifesaving drugs. India, which has been on this watch list for years, accounts for one fourth of the global burden of multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB). While patient groups have repeatedly urged the Indian government to fight to increase access to newer, safer, and more tolerable medicines for MDR-TB programs across the world — as India has done for HIV and older TB drugs — the U.S. government and the companies that make the drugs are pushing India to doing what’s best for them rather than the people desperately in need of treatment,” said Leonardo Palumbo, U.S. advocacy adviser for MSF’s Access Campaign.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 11:35:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/ustr-again-places-india-on-watch-list/article23711740.ece

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