Millennium Post

Will Obama’s visit put pressure on India to dilute patent laws?

HIV patient groups, activists working on access to medicine and IP academics have expressed the fear that Obama’s visit will pressure India to dilute the provisions in its patent laws meant to safeguard public health priorities. They accused the government of trying to bypass Parliament on the issue.

“As the people of India, we welcome President Obama, if he represents the American people. But we don’t want him as a representative of US business, especially the pharmaceutical industry, which is responsible for millions of deaths across the world by making drugs too expensive through monopoly pricing,” said Dr Amit Sengupta of Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA) , a network of organisations working on public health issues.

The US government recently reviewed India’s intellectual property system and declared it inadequate placing it on the US “Special 301 Watch List”, which could invite trade sanctions. “After the India-US joint summit where India bent over backwards to agree to set up an IP working group, what it gets in return is the US announcing an out-of-turn review of India’s patent laws and stance on IP.

India has been on the US Trade Representative’s priority watch list for 30 years. So why is there sudden urgency regarding being on the watch list?” “PM Modi came as India’s strongman, but where is his strength if he cannot tackle a declining power like the US?” asked senior advocate Anand Grover of Lawyers Collective.
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