;   Medical Translation Insight: Drug patents in India - 1 step forward, 2 steps back - ForeignExchange Translations

Drug patents in India - 1 step forward, 2 steps backWelcome to the underbelly of the pharma business.

In response to an article [subscription required] in The Wall Street Journal on a case between Bayer AG and India's chief drug regulator, the In the Pipeline blog questioned the use of drug patents, in India if not globally.

Noting that "intellectual property" and "India" are no longer mutually exclusive (the country changed its laws to recognize chemical substances and process patents in 2005), the article questions "what the Indian courts are up to (other than protecting their own generic industry and forcing down the price of drugs, of course)".

The two articles generated a lot of heated comments. The discussions at both the WSJ and In the Pipeline sites quickly strayed from the topic at hand to moral, economic, and social issues.

The articles as well as the comments are highly recommended reading. They provide a fascinating look at the globalization of drug manufacturing and the seedier side of the pharma business.

Here are a couple of choice excerpts from the discussions:

As for other questions about "Western" values, what about Malta (in the EU region, but with no patent laws.....)where the Italians (Dynamit) are manufacturing fexofenadine which goes into the "approved" generics (as it is a different manufacturing process)?
And:
Switzerland's chemical and pharmaceutical industry rose to such a level because they initially refused to recognize German patents. The Japanese, when their economy began to industrialize, were primarily known for copying everything. There's no reason why India wouldn't take the same path.
And finally:
The patent system is enacted to support the lifestyle of developed world at the expense of developing world while keeping the delta unchanged. ... Drug companies, with their deep pockets, have become expert in manipulating the patent laws to keep their patents alive by making minor changes to product and/or process.
Fascinating...

[A big thank you to FiercePharma's Twitter feed for the tip!]

Makes you want to read more about India, doesn't it? Well, we're happy to comply. Check out these past posts:
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