Historic Ruling Against First Modern Drug Patent In India

from the just-the-start? dept

As Techdirt has reported over the last year, the Indian government is becoming increasingly keen on using cheaper, generic versions of important drugs to treat diseases, rather than paying Western-level prices its people can ill afford. Intellectual Property Watch reports on another instance of the Indian authorities easing the way for low-cost versions by striking down a patent granted to Roche for the treatment of Hepatitis C. As the article explains, it's notable for at least two reasons:

the patent granted to Roche in 2006 was the first product patent on a medicine in India after the country switched to a product patent regime for medicines as mandated by the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). It is also India's first successful post-grant opposition case.
Getting rid of the first modern drug patent in this way neatly symbolizes the country's aggressive new attitude to Western-held monopolies on medicines. It's interesting that in this case the opposition came not from the Indian government, but from Sankalp Rehabilitation Trust, a non-governmental organization, which hopes to source the drug from a manufacturer of generics cheaply enough to be able to give it away for free. This may well inspire post-grant opposition from other organizations seeking to provide cheaper drugs to the sick in India through the use of generic versions.

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Filed Under: generics, hepatitis c, india, patents
Companies: roche


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  1. icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 11 Dec 2012 @ 9:31am

    Re: Re: Hate it

    That's a completely false dichotomy. To say that the drug companies are ripping everyone off is not to say that nobody should be able to make money developing new drugs.

    It's a mistake to leave this critical activity solely in the hands of private for-profit industry, though. First, because it encourages the price-gouging that we currently see, but more importantly because it's harmful to public health.

    There is a desperate need for new drugs that can really save millions of lives. Drug companies put nearly all their R&D into drugs with the highest profit potential and neglect those that would make less return on investment (but would actually benefit huge numbers of people).

    So we see the plethora of drugs for trivial or noncritical issues: erection pills, heartburn pills, hair-growing formulas, etc., or we see important types of drugs that are made to be as expensive as possible (and therefore useless to most of the people on Earth) and end up being less effective with more side-effects than cheap drugs which are no longer under patent.

    The drug companies appear to do more harm than good when it comes to R&D.

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