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IP Alliance Calls for US-India Affordable Medicine Partnership Amidst Priority Watch List Controversy

Written by : Jayati Dubey

June 11, 2024

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The USTR's 2024 Special 301 Report has once again placed India on the Priority Watch List, indicating concerns over intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement.

The Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IP Alliance), comprising 23 leading pharmaceutical companies, has made a formal submission proposing a partnership between the US and India to ensure affordable medicines for global patients.

This has come in response to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) 's continued placement of India on the Priority Watch List in the 2024 Special 301 Report.

India on Priority Watch List Sparks Debate

The USTR's 2024 Special 301 Report has once again placed India on the Priority Watch List, indicating concerns over intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement.

The report aims to gather data and insights to evaluate whether India provides adequate and effective IP rights protection and equitable market access for the US pharmaceutical industry.

In its submission, the IP Alliance argued, "India's placement on the Priority Watch List overlooks the significant advancements and dedicated efforts made by the country in the realm of intellectual property rights. With compelling evidence and firm conviction, the IP Alliance urges the reconsideration of India's position, advocating for its removal from the Priority Watch List. This call for action is grounded in the belief that India's achievements in IPR protection and enforcement deserve recognition and respect on the global stage."

Highlighting India's Commitment to IP Rights

The IP Alliance's submission highlights several significant initiatives undertaken by the Indian government, judiciary, and other stakeholders aimed at strengthening and modernizing India's intellectual property (IP) framework.

These initiatives reflect India's proactive approach to aligning with international standards, particularly those set by the TRIPS Agreement and the Doha Declaration.

Sudarshan Jain, secretary general of the IP Alliance, stated, "This submission addresses patent issues relevant to the pharmaceutical industry, affirming that India is compliant with TRIPS provisions. The IPR ecosystem in India has been considerably strengthened, and steps have been taken to enforce patent laws effectively."

The IP Alliance emphasized that the US and India should collaborate to make medicines more affordable and build a resilient supply chain. Notably, India supplies 47% of the generic drugs used in the US market.

Over the past decade, the use of Indian generics has resulted in $1.3 trillion in savings for the US healthcare system, contributing to an annual saving of over $200 billion.

Jain elaborated, "The IP Alliance proposes a US-India Affordable Medicines Partnership to ensure access to essential medicines for patients worldwide. This partnership will enhance mutual benefits and solidify both nations' roles in global healthcare."

India's Role in the Global Pharma Industry

The IP Alliance members contribute about 85% of private sector investment in India's pharmaceutical research and development (R&D). They account for over 80% of India's pharmaceutical exports and more than 64% of the domestic market.

The alliance underscores the importance of protecting innovations to facilitate the development of cost-effective improvements and new medicines.

The IP Alliance's submission to the USTR argues that India has made substantial progress in IP protection, which includes:

1. Strengthening Legal Framework: India has updated its legal framework to better protect intellectual property rights, including stringent measures against IP violations.

2. Judiciary Support: Indian courts have increasingly supported IP rights, with expedited case handling and stronger enforcement of patent laws.

3. Modernization Initiatives: Significant efforts have been made to modernize the IP system in India, ensuring it meets global standards and supports innovation.

The IP Alliance contends that despite these advancements, India's continued placement on the Priority Watch List is unjustified and fails to acknowledge the country's significant strides in IPR protection and enforcement.


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