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As Big Pharma Piles On The Political Pressure, Indian Government Slows Pace Of Compulsory Drug Licensing

from the regrettable-for-many,-fatal-for-some dept

As we've been reporting for a while now, the Indian government has been taking advantage of the provision in TRIPS that permits it to issue compulsory licenses for key drugs at affordable prices. As Professor Brook Baker explained last year:

the WTO TRIPS Agreement allows India and any other country to issue compulsory licenses on any grounds they want to as long as certain procedural safeguards are followed. Using fully lawful compulsory licensing procedures, India did issue a compulsory license on an overpriced Bayer cancer medicine, citing three justifications in a 60-plus page decision: excessive pricing, failure to supply the market, and refusal to produce locally. As a result of this license, the cost of the cancer medicine has now fallen more than 97%, showing the excess mark-up that Bayer imposes on patients.
That obviously doesn't sit too well with Western pharmaceutical companies, whose business model is essentially to sell low volumes of new drugs for extremely high prices that only the relatively affluent can afford. From the Western drug industry's perspective, India's actions are particularly troubling for the example they provide to other emerging nations. That's why big pharma companies are getting US politicians to put pressure on India to limit grants of compulsory licenses, or face retaliatory measures. According to this article in The Times of India, it seems to be working:
Amid heightened scrutiny of the intellectual property regime, the [Indian] government has decided to tread with caution on a compulsory licence for a cancer drug to ensure that its decision is in line with the legal provisions.

While compulsory licencing, which entails waiver of patent under extreme situations, for three cancer drugs was being pushed by the health ministry, the issue is now limited to Dasatinib, a medicine to treat a type of cancer of the white blood cells, for which Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) holds a patent.
Although that caution is understandable, the sad fact is people are likely to die as a result of this slowing of the flow of cancer treatments at affordable prices, brought about by big pharma companies worried about profit margins. That's rather ironic for an industry that is predicated on saving lives.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2014 @ 12:24am

    It's not ironic at all. It's terrorism by health theft. "Nice populace you have there, be a shame if something happeneed to it..."

    And it's fucking disgusting. Remember that Bayer makes amost of its profits from drugs sold to Western countries and then demands that other countries pay that price - which is directly putting lives at risk.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2014 @ 1:44am

    it shows the disgraceful attitude that people dont matter at all, but money is the king! how can any company, particularly a company that makes and sells medicines, put sales before peoples lives? disgusting!

    perhaps they need to consult Apple because i'm sure they'll have an app for that!

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2014 @ 3:10am

    But according to right wingers this can't happen therefore your interpretation is wrong and if people die its because the rich are paying too much tax

     

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  4.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Mar 11th, 2014 @ 3:24am

    It takes a special kind of sociopath...

    ... to prioritize profits over lives, and not give a damn if people die because they cannot afford the medicine they need.

    The pharma industry of course is filled to the brim with these kinds of 'people', but it's a serious shame that the Indian government, who had been willing to actually fight the greed of the scum to make sure their people were able to afford medicine, instead appear to be caving in to pressures from outside their country.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2014 @ 3:35am

    corruption

    the pursuit of profit is the underlying principle behind all these companies, I expect the Management would get booted if they did not return maximum profit to the shareholders. And the politicians of the west are indebted to these companies because they bankroll their election campaigns. And Campaign finance reform is as dead as the dodo. And if any of the current crop of politicians becomes a political liability, there are another half dozen anal-orifices waiting to take their place.

     

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  6.  
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    Ninja (profile), Mar 11th, 2014 @ 3:58am

    That's rather ironic for an industry that is predicated on saving lives.

    There's no irony at all. Their only goal is profits. They don't care about human lives or this battle wouldn't be ongoing.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2014 @ 4:55am

    Re:

    Yes, the uber riche are being persecuted just like Jews in WWII Germany, why are you attacking the 1% Adolf?

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2014 @ 4:58am

    Re: corruption

    "return maximum profit to the shareholders"

    I've heard this one before, and it rings a bit hollow. I doubt that the board gives a shit about share holders, they are driven by the money they put in their pockets.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2014 @ 5:01am

    "the WTO TRIPS Agreement allows India and any other country to issue compulsory licenses on any grounds they want to"

    Strange, they are being chastised for adhering to the treaty everyone agreed to. Why should they even consider any new treaties?

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2014 @ 6:34am

    "As Big Pharma Piles on the Political Donations..."

    FTFY

     

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  11.  
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    Aussie Geoff (profile), Mar 11th, 2014 @ 6:38am

    Re:

    Strange, they are being chastised for adhering to the treaty everyone agreed to.

    Nothing strange about it at all. The largest PAC of US business (that would be what is laughingly call the US government) is all for enforcing treaties/agreements etc when they are told to by big business, but totally ignore them for exactly the same reason!

    Why should they even consider any new treaties?

    They shouldn't. It is well past time that all countries negotiated acceptable agreements between themselves and not invite the US to participate of have any input. All it requires is for politicians around the world to grow a spine and tell the US they are not required or wanted. Of course the problem is finding the politicians that will do this.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2014 @ 7:00am

    Re: It takes a special kind of sociopath...

    That's just why a bunch of people were saying during the Obamacare debate that Obamacare doesn't go far enough, because it doesn't take the profits out of healthcare.

    If your choice is pay some outrageous price for medical care you need that's 1,000 times the actual expense, or die, you don't have much of a choice but to pay up, if you even have money, or to die if you don't have the money.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2014 @ 9:31am

    They should start slapping whoever is responsible for keeping drugs from those who need it with murder charges. Maybe the price will drop after all these people are in jail for life. All for making profit, but not by killing people.

     

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  14.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Mar 11th, 2014 @ 10:08am

    Re: Re: corruption

    But that money is dependent on them delivering a return for the shareholders.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, Mar 11th, 2014 @ 10:35am

    Re: It takes a special kind of sociopath...

    It takes a special kind of sociopath...
    ... to prioritize profits over lives, and not give a damn if people die because they cannot afford the medicine they need.

    The pharma industry of course is filled to the brim with these kinds of 'people', but it's a serious shame that the Indian government, who had been willing to actually fight the greed of the scum to make sure their people were able to afford medicine, instead appear to be caving in to pressures from outside their country.


    It's a serious shame that the US government is the one putting the pressure on them. Really shows where their priorities lie.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Mason Wheeler (profile), Mar 11th, 2014 @ 11:16am

    Re:

    This, a thousand times.

    For-profit medicine of any kind (note: actual medicine, not "elective procedures") is, by definition, inherently a conflict of interest and ought not to exist. Period.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    GEMont, Mar 11th, 2014 @ 12:10pm

    The Wonders of Blackmail

    This is simply another example of the desired results of NSA surveillance-fueld blackmail.

    When some nation/group decides to make a stand against the Empire's desire to make the rules, all that the Corporocracy needs do is send each of the people composing the resisting force a message containing a list of their personal habits, foibles, sexploits and secret dealings. In no time at all, the opposition to the Empire's desires fade away as if it had never been, especially if a couple of the hard-liners in the group are suddenly killed in auto-accidents, or plane crashes.

    After all, none of the black-mailed victims is likely to tell anyone that they are being black-mailed.

    The MAFIA and Drug Cartels proved the process works almost every time and the FED has simply made the process into policy.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2014 @ 12:25pm

    Big Pharma is a threat to the health and safety, of the world's population. Patents allow Big Pharma to threaten the health and safety of people. Therefore, patents are immoral and wrong.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    GEMont, Mar 11th, 2014 @ 3:53pm

    Re: patents are immoral and wrong

    hmmm.... wasn't that the same argument they made against usury - commonly known as interest....

    Methinks that argument is not going to get very far against an organization that considers profit first and morality last - if at all.

    Big Pharma has but one agenda - to sell as many drugs as possible, to as many people as possible, forever.

    Corporate mandates do not include a morality clause.

    The only purpose of corporation is profit on an ever-escalating scale, by any means possible. This, regardless of their product or service, is the mandate of all corporations.

    To a corporation, wrong means income capital lost, and immoral refers to laws that prevent the corporation from lying, cheating and using other business models such as blackmail, that could wrest more income, from more people, faster.

    Your argument is as pointless as saying organized crime is wrong and immoral. It was designed to be that way.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    GEMont, Mar 11th, 2014 @ 4:00pm

    Re: They??

    ummmm.... who they??

    If you mean government, methinks you did not read the article fully. There is no "they" currently available on earth to punish or prevent excess by corporations. The old "law enforcement organizations" that were once responsible for this sort of action, are currently busy insuring that the peasants cannot upset the mega wealthy in any way, and arresting school children who point their finger at someone in a threatening manner.

    Once again, money has spoken, and "they" are on the payroll.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    GEMont, Mar 11th, 2014 @ 4:15pm

    Re: Re: Grow a spine

    Except that politicians are people and people have appetites, and generally, the greater the income, the more esoteric and deviant the appetites.

    The NSA, uses the tried and true MAFIA proven rule that every man has his price, and by surveilling every communication of every politician and official in every country, they have managed to create a very, very, precise price list.

    You will indeed see the exact opposite of what you want "politicians around the world" to do in the very near future. They will cave in to US demands one after the other, as they receive the notification of the price tag next to their names on that list.

    What is really scary for people in power in foreign lands, is that the NSA/FBI/GCHQ/CIA can now upload the "incriminating evidence" directly onto their individual computers at will, using the back-doors built into the software already installed, in such a way as to make it appear that the owner was responsible.

    There is no way to fight back against such a system of coercion.

    Blackmail is an awesome business model, when you're eavesdropping on the whole world.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 11th, 2014 @ 5:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: corruption

    They seem to take bonuses regardless of performance or legality. Even when they are shown the door, they get a golden parachute - what they deserve is a golden shower.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Lawrence DíOliveiro, Mar 11th, 2014 @ 6:00pm

    Meanwhile, In Venezuela...

    We previously covered the repressive side of what the Government is up to in Venezuela. But on the flip side, with all the talk of shortage of supplies, including medicines, it appears the pharmacies have no shortage of generic versions of drugs. However, the doctors donít like those, because they reckon they arenít as effective as the (much more expensive) name-brand drugs.

    But how can that be? Generics have exactly the same active ingredients, they are simply not manufactured under licence from the patent holders.

     

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  24.  
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    BeeAitch (profile), Mar 11th, 2014 @ 6:19pm

    That's rather ironic for an industry that is predicated on saving lives.

    Great article, didn't stick the landing.

    Since when is the pharmaceutical industry predicated on saving lives?

    In my living memory the the pharmaceutical industry has been predicated on making money.

     

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  25.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Mar 11th, 2014 @ 10:24pm

    Re: Meanwhile, In Venezuela...

    'However, the doctors donít like those, because they don't get kickbacks from prescribing them rather than the (much more expensive) name-brand drugs.'

    Small change to more closely match the likely real reason.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    howard, Mar 12th, 2014 @ 1:22am

    pharma industry

    Well pharmaceutical industry only making their profits out of people lives and diseases we have. Common man can not even think of affording those treatments or even medicines as their prices are above the range of average people. buy

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Pragmatic, Mar 13th, 2014 @ 6:54am

    Re:

    Where's that frantic Libertarian who was in here yesterday decrying government in healthcare? I'd like to see his case for how private enterprise does a better job of providing us with medicine without regulation.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 13th, 2014 @ 7:41am

    Re: Re:

    It wasn't me, but consider one scenario: what if private enterprise was not corrupted by the entitlement of patents? Without that, the path to more profit comes from more volume, i.e., actually getting paid for productivity.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    The Wanderer (profile), Mar 15th, 2014 @ 1:20pm

    Re: Meanwhile, In Venezuela...

    Allegedly, even with the exact same ingredients, differences in the way you put them together can make a difference in the resulting effect - something like how you can start with "flour, water, and yeast" and end up with a loaf of bread, a pie crust, a pizza crust, or a batch of crackers, depending on what you do with them.

    Also, allegedly even when the formulation is the same, the way it's packaged can make a difference in delivery results - think "delayed release" medications for "day-long relief with just one dose!", vs. something that gives you the same total dose all at once up front, so you get a stronger effect right away but a much weaker one near the end of the cycle.

    Things like that probably don't make a difference in many cases, but I can certainly see how they could do so in some cases.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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