Mumbai, Sept. 14: The Indian government should fine tune patent regulations by bringing in more legal certainty and clearly laying down the criteria for compulsory licensing, according to Dr Eric Noehrenberg, director (intellectual property & trade issues), International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (IFPMA).
“Lack of clarity in the Indian Patents Act could discourage investment by foreign players and curtail domestic innovation, Noehrenberg said. He was speaking at the 36th annual general meeting of the Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI) on ‘The vital importance of intellectual property rights for the pharmaceutical industry: An international perspective’.
The government should also accord patent rights without discriminating as to whether the product is imported or indigenously produced and also take into confidence the original holder of a patent before going in for compulsory licensing.
As per the compulsory licensing provision, the government has a right to ask domestic manufacturers to produce a certain drug during exigencies even if the drug is patented. This has, however, met with some amount of discontent, particularly among multinational pharma companies.
Many of these companies have requested the government to be transparent about the situations that could lead to compulsory licensing.
Noehrenberg pointed out that while patent protection would bring in huge foreign investment, India too has various strengths that include a vast scientific talent, vibrant entrepreneurial culture and good potential for clinical research.
Speaking on the occasion, Ranjit Shahani, president, OPPI, said that while making a concerted effort to become a dominant player in the global markets, the domestic problems of the industry also requires immediate government attention. The new pharmaceutical policy has got embroiled in litigation resulting in undue delay. “This is working as a deterrent for companies to go ahead with their business plans for investment and expansion,” he pointed out.
Shahani added that the pharmaceutical industry in India has a positive advantage in terms of cost competitiveness where they are significantly lower in terms of plant, maintenance and labour. Moreover, research support services are also a good candidate for global sourcing from India.