labels: pharmaceuticals, world trade organisation, indian pharmaceutical association, trade
India asked to lead battle against developed world on patent issuenews
Nisha Das
26 February 2003
Mumbai: In a significant development, Saarc countries, Latin America and China have asked India to lead the developing countries in their battle against the developed world led by the US on patents and issued related to compulsory licensing in the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

Says Indian Pharmaceutical Association director-general D G Shah: “During the last world conferences, all these countries agreed with the viewpoint of India on Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (Trips) and public health. Now, these countries, especially, the Saarc nations, have asked us to head the battle against the developed world on patent-related issues. But a final decision has to be taken by the government.”

In a meeting organised by Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) on WTO and trade-related issues here, the Saarc countries Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have fully agreed with the stand taken by India on Para No 6 of the Trips agreement which deals with the compulsory licensing clause and the 15 disease compromise formula introduced by European Union Trade commissioner Pascal Lamy last month.

The Lamy proposal listed 15 “infectious epidemics,” which is almost in line with the US stand. He also suggested that WHO be entrusted with the task of assessing the occurrence of other public health problems that could be covered under the agreement.

The list of 15 diseases include HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, yellow fever, plague, cholera, dengue, influenza, hepatitis, typhoid and measles, which Lamy felt were generally recognised by health experts to have the most damaging impact on developing countries.

But, the developing countries feel the compromise formula restricts the extent of disease coverage as compared to that envisaged in the Doha declaration, which gives a wide range of diseases under the compulsory licensing provision.

But the US wanted a limited coverage of diseases under the agreement, due to the pressure from its domestic pharmaceutical lobby, and continued to hold out, preventing a final agreement on the issue.

WHO, in the meantime, has refused to arbitrate on the list of diseases to be covered, the compromise formula proposed by the European Union, putting the Trips-related issues in limbo once again, says Shah.

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India asked to lead battle against developed world on patent issue