Access to medicine and innovation are not mutually exclusive: US Trade Representative

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US Trade Representative (USTR) expressed its concern over the recent ruling of Supreme Court of India on the patent of a cancer drug stating that the access to medicine and innovation are not mutually exclusive.

USTR said, "On the Indian Supreme Court decision regarding pharmaceutical patents, I think it's fair to say that the governments of India and the US share the goal of providing safe, affordable medicines. The US believes that access and innovation are not mutually exclusive."

Post the release of a Congressional-mandated report on violations of intellectual property rights by countries across the globe, a USTR official said, "We can increase access to medicines and at the same time support innovation through development of new and improved drugs. We're very interested in working within it to achieve right policy mix to maximise both innovation and access. And supporting innovation is, in our view, an important part of that policy mix."

On India, the USTR said that the recent actions by the Indian Government have raised serious questions about the innovation climate in the country and risk hindering the country's progress towards an innovation-focused economy.

"The decision appears to confirm that India's law creates a special, additional criterion for select technologies, like pharmaceuticals, which could preclude issuance of a patent even if the applicant demonstrates that the invention is new, involves an inventive step, and is capable of industrial application," USTR said.

"Unless overturned, the decision could potentially compel innovators outside India, including those in sectors well beyond pharmaceuticals, such as green technology and information and communications technology, to manufacture in India in order to avoid being forced to license an invention to third parties," it said.

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Story first published: Thursday, May 2, 2013, 23:31 [IST]
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