‘The Patent Regime will be a turning point for the Pharma Industry’
EPP News Bureau – Goa
Ravindra Limaye, Vice President, Business Development, Marketing and Commercial Strategy, GlaxoSmithKline India
The change in patent legislation is probably the largest policy intervention by the Government in the area of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). A National Symposium on patents was organised by Goa Institute of Management (GIM) to facilitate understanding of issues as the industry strives to cope with challenges of the new patent regime. The two-day symposium laid special emphasis on implications of the introduction of TRIPs (Agreement on Trade-Related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) on pharmaceutical, life sciences and the chemical sectors.
“India is going through a cultural transformation,” said Padma Bhushan Dr. Anil Kakodkar, Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission and Secretary to the Government of India, Department of Atomic Energy; during the inauguration of the symposium. “The advent of the IPR regime has led to commercialisation of knowledge,” he said.
Peter F.X. D’Lima, Director, Goa Institute of Management
“It is critical to adapt to the TRIPs agreement to make the best of business opportunities,” opined Padmashri Professor Madhava Menon, Director of National Judicial Academy, Bhopal.
The discussions went around ambiguities, inconsistencies, gaps and overlaps in the Ordinance. Repercussions on the industry and impact on availability of life-saving drugs in third world countries were other issues that were debated in the forum.
Participants raised concerns over whether TRIPs guidelines were to be awarded only to new molecules and if naturally found forms like microbes were also to be provided patent prtection.
Speakers like Padmashri Dr. Anji Reddy from Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories (DRL), S. Ramakrishna from Pfizer and Ravindra Limaye from GSK represented the pharmaceutical industry. Dr. Reddy addressed the gathering coercing the market players to develop stronger R&D capabilities and not fear the patent regime. “The patent regime does not mark the end of Pharma industry. Have confidence in yourself, time will prove you right,” he said. S. Ramakrishna, Senior Director, Corporate Affairs of Pfizer said, “A patent is not an exclusive hiding of knowledge by the finder, in fact it is entirely the opposite, because companies disclose everything that it has found through the patent, to the world,” he said.
Padma Bhushan Dr. Anil Kakodkar, Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission and Secretary to the Government of India, Department of Atomic Energy
“The new patent regime will give us incentive to innovate and come up with quality products,” agreed Pradip Mazumdar, Director, Syngenta Bio-Science. “We will no more be looked upon as just a cheap source of generic drugs, but will instead earn reputation as a supplier of quality products,” he added. He also provided a perspective on agro chemical companies, and stated that industries were reluctant to invest in India, because product piracy till recntly went unpunished. According to him, technology transfer was therefore being held back. “The new patent regime means that there will be a greater scope of technology transfer.”
A different opinion was expressed by Mr. Keayla, the founder Convenor of the National Working Group on patent laws. He warned the industry of a need for extensive safeguards.
Prof. Anurag Agarwal, who is in the Business Policy Area at IIM, Ahmedabad gave a legal viewpoint. He expressed fears over the copy-paste syndrome being followed by the country and suggested that we need to understand the amendments to the patent law, before we accept any change. He also explained the difficulties that the Indian legal system is presently facing and indicated that it would take some time before legal institutions, patent agents, lawyers and judges attain expertise in the area.
Ravindra Limaye, Vice President, Business Development, Marketing and Commercial Strategy, GSK talked on developing a sustainable relationship between Indian firms and MNCs. . “We need to inculcate willingness to accept changes for betterment. 1970 was the first turning point that proved our potential to become a global Pharma industry. We should allow Jan 2005 to be the second one,” he concluded.