Allow patents for incremental innovation of medicines: Study

August 26th, 2009 - 9:22 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Aug 26 (IANS) India should give patents to improved variants of existing medicines as it will help people access variety of drugs at a competitive price, said a new study released Wednesday.
“Currently Indian patent law does now give patent to a new drug if it is not significantly different and efficacious than an existing one,” said Ranjit Shahani, president of the Organisation of the Pharmaceutical producers of India (OPPI).

He said the government does not allow patent to incremental innovation which is a build-up innovation on an existing variety of medicine. This restriction is hurting Indian patients as they are not getting better medicines.

The report which was released by the US-India Business Council (USIBC) said that over 60 percent of the drugs on World Health Organisation (WHO) list of essential medicines reflect incremental improvements of older drugs.

“Extending patent protection to incremental pharmaceutical innovation should encourage Indian pharmaceutical companies to expand their investment in innovation and ultimately become major source of new drug products for both the Indian and global markets,” the report said.

Greg Kalbaugh, director of USIBC, said: “Incremental innovations are not small achievements.”

Giving an example, he said: “Heat stable version of anti-retro viral drugs may not be critically important to people in large cities where there is easy access to electricity and refrigeration, but they are surely important to people in rural areas.”

“Citizens in rural areas deserve to know that when they take an important drug, it is going to work whether they have access to refrigeration or not. Unfortunately, section 3 (d) of Indian patent law actively discourages that sort of innovations,” Kalbaugh argued.

He also said that 65 percent of the drugs approved by the US Food and Drug Administration between 1989 and 2000 are incremental innovations.

Shahani, who is also the managing director of Novartis India, said: “By talking about patent for incremental innovation, they are not shifting their focus from generic drugs.”

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