/Piyush Goyal to global pharma, Health News, ET HealthWorld
Show big heart to back proposal for easy access to medicines: Piyush Goyal to global pharma

Piyush Goyal to global pharma, Health News, ET HealthWorld

Commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday said that 57 members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have supported an India-South Africa proposal for equitable access to medicines during the ongoing pandemic and expressed hope that the global pharmaceutical industry will show “big heart” to support the proposal.

At a Ficci event, he also said that developed countries are under pressure as they talk about a multilateral fight against the Covid-19 pandemic while protecting the interests of a few companies.

India and South Africa, had in October last year, proposed a waiver for all WTO members of certain provisions of copyrights, industrial designs, patents and protection of undisclosed information in the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement for prevention, containment or treatment of Covid-19. Waiver is a legal instrument provided for exceptional circumstances under the WTO.

“We now have 57 WTO members supporting us. We have many African countries, many LDCs already on board,” Goyal said at Ficci’s International Conference on Pharmaceutical & Medical Device Sector, adding that the proposal would allow more and more countries to get equitable access to medicines and other products.

“I am sure the industry will show big heart across the world and support the TRIPS waiver that India has proposed at the WTO so that the entire world can come out of the covid pandemic much faster and bring back the ‘V ‘shaped recovery to the entire world,” Goyal said.

The proposal seeks to avoid barriers to timely access to affordable medical products including vaccines and medicines or to scaling-up of research, development, manufacturing and supply of essential medical products.

However, it is being opposed by China, the US, the EU, the UK, Switzerland, Japan and Australia, among others.

“The developed world is under pressure because on the one hand, they talk about supporting each other and multilateral fight against Covid-19 pandemic but on the other hand, they’re looking at protecting the interests of a few companies only in terms of innovation costs or R&D,” Goyal said.

The minister said that the world is fighting the pandemic which could potentially cost $9 trillion to the global economy and many sectors have collapsed like tourism, hospitality and travel.

Goyal also told the domestic industry to fight the global pharma giants “in their turf, in their style”.

“If evergreening or incremental innovations are hurting us in our international engagements, maybe some of us can join the bandwagon and also market our products at comparable standards with international companies and fight them in their turf, in their style,” he said.

India doesn’t allow ‘evergreening’ of patents, especially in pharma. Section 3(d) of the Patents Act prohibits the grant of ‘evergreening’ patents, which are additional patents for a drug with no therapeutic benefit and serve only to increase the term of patent monopoly. The US has often objected to this regulation.

The minister asked the generic pharmaceutical suppliers to look at innovation as generic medicines have to be made available in India at the right price in sufficient quantity. Goyal said industry can work through this along with international regulators and foreign governments.