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Financial Times Examines Intellectual Property Debate In India

The Financial Times examines how the “struggle of educated, middle-class patients to obtain cutting-edge medicine … has led to a showdown between India and western pharmaceutical companies over the patents and prices of lifesaving drugs” in the country. The newspaper writes, “Western drugmakers fear India will inspire other emerging markets to challenge their patents,” adding, “They have accused India of trampling on their intellectual property rights after a series of decisions overriding, revoking or refusing patents on cancer and hepatitis C drugs from Bayer, Pfizer, Roche and Novartis.”

“At a recent U.S. congressional hearing, Roy Waldron, Pfizer’s chief intellectual property officer, complained that New Delhi had ‘routinely flouted trade rules to bolster the Indian generics industry,'” the Financial Times continues. However, “Indian generics executives and patients activists say the reality is more nuanced,” the newspaper notes, adding, “They argue that India’s courts are trying to balance drug companies’ intellectual property rights against the need for affordable medicine for 1.2 billion Indians.” The Financial Times states, “India’s public health care system has virtually collapsed, with Indians paying 60 percent of their health care costs from their own pockets.” The newspaper provides a history of drug patent issues in the country, discusses the implications of the current debate on global and in-country drug markets, and highlights how issues in the country’s health care sector are contributing to the problem (Kazmin, 5/15).