Close Close

Life Health > Health Insurance

Doctors Without Borders takes on drug companies in India

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.

(Bloomberg) — The Access Campaign of Medecins Sans Frontieres, the French charity also known as Doctors Without Borders, is asking the Indian government not to weaken what it calls “pro-public-health patent law,” the organization said in a statement yesterday.

MSF asked India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi not to give in to “pressure” from the foreign pharmaceutical industry and change its law to favor patent holders.

In March 2012, India’s Controller of Patents issued a compulsory license to Natco Pharma Ltd. to make a generic form of sorafenib, a drug used to treat kidney and liver cancer. The patented drug was developed by Bayer AG and sold under the name of Nexavar.

Under India’s patent laws, compulsory licenses can be awarded for some products still under patent if the original isn’t available locally at a reasonable price.

See also: Specialty drugs: What will sick people do?

Bayer turned to India’s Intellectual Property Appellate Board, which in March 2013 upheld the Natco license, raising the royalty rate paid to Bayer to 7 percent from from 6 percent. Bayer said it would appeal.

In the 2014 Special Report issued by the U.S. Office of the Trade Representative, India’s actions on pharmaceutical products were singled out. According to the report, “recent actions by the government of India with respect to patents, however, have raised serious concerns about the innovation climate in India.”

In October, the U.S. Trade Representative said in a statement that it would conduct an out-of-cycle review of India’s intellectual property policies. The public is invited to “provide all necessary information for identifying and assessing the quality of engagement with the government of India on IP-related issues of concern.”

See also: Plans in showdown against high-cost drugs.