Important Indian Pharma News Meshes With Recent SGK Patterns Article
In the current issue of SGK Patterns: Emerging Markets, Converging Opportunities, SGK explains the unique role of India in the world pharmaceutical market – how several decades of freedom from patent law gave it an edge in R&D and in global market share, as the leader in low-cost imitation drugs. A recent important news story from India suggests that the title of the Patterns story – “Every Challenge is an Opportunity: Manufacturing and Marketing Pharmaceuticals in India” – was on the mark:
The news of April 1 was that the Indian high court had struck down a petition by a major pharmaceutical company for patent protection of its very successful cancer drug. The pharmaceutical company said the drug was covered under Indian law that says drugs patented before 1995 are patent-protected; the court ruled that the version now being copied is different from the version the company had patented in 1993.
The ruling related to just one drug, but press coverage showed that it could have huge impact. Pharma representatives felt that the ruling was a step backward in progress toward Western-style patent protection that India began in 2005 with updated laws. And that it would prompt other developing countries to swing against patent protections going forward.
Public health officials were glad for the ruling, because the drug in question costs considerably less in generic, making it much more available to sick people worldwide.
The news is a perfect example of the complicated nature of world pharma. How do courts and governments balance the need for intellectual property protection, product research and the availability of affordable medicines? Here is The New York Times’ account of the Indian court’s judgment; read it along with Every Challenge Is an Opportunity: Manufacturing and Marketing Pharmaceuticals in India. You’ll see that the article could also have been entitled “Every Opportunity Is a Challenge.”