U.S. Trade Group Praises India Patents Amendment Bill
U.S. drug industry representatives are applauding the approval of strict new patent rules in India, but the action has been met with mixed reactions elsewhere, including from international advocacy groups and within India's own drug industry.
"We recognize the importance of this historic vote and are pleased that India has taken the necessary legislative steps to provide patent protection for pharmaceutical products in Indian law," Billy Tauzin, president and chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said. "This is good for India, and good for Indian patients."
Approved by India's parliament in voice vote March 23, the 2005 Patents Amendment Bill will enable the government to start granting patents for drugs for the first time since 1970. The bill had been expected because India's membership in the World Trade Organisation is conditional upon the creation of strict patent rules for pharmaceutical products. The bill will become law after it is signed by India's president, which is expected soon.
Although U.S. interests have generally applauded the bill, the Indian Drug Manufacturers Association (IDMA) expressed ambivalence about the new rules.
"We have mixed feelings about the patents bill," IDMA Executive Director Gajanan Wakankar said. "While several of our concerns were addressed and provisions have been made on those issues, there are certain areas, such as compulsory licensing, where the government should have made better provisions in order to improve access to medicines."