The Global Consequences of IP Infringement in India

Two recent events—American Enterprise Institute’s "Pharmacy to the world: India and the global prescription drug trade" and the Global IP Center’s “India: International Outlier on IP”—brought renewed attention to India’s role in global pharmaceutical industry. At each of these events, policy makers and leading thinkers provided medical, business and development perspectives on this complex and timely discussion.

Over the last several months, we’ve witnessed many disturbing intellectual property (IP) infringement and drug safety cases in India. As Lilly’s VP, Deputy General Patent Counsel, Steven P. Caltrider pointed out, India’s lack of IP protections and discrimination against biopharmaceutical patents seriously threatens patients’ access to effective and safe medicines, and hurts U.S. global competitiveness.

"This is a very delicate issue," said Diane Farrell of the U.S.-India business counsel. This delicacy requires solutions that benefit public health, sustain U.S. biotech innovation, unleash India’s economic potential, and ensure patient access to life-saving medicines worldwide. While we acknowledge the complexity of addressing this problem, strong IP protection and a global partnership network stand out as two ingredients to providing such a solution. “By ensuring IP protection, we are actually creating jobs, advancing innovation, and ensuring medicine access,” said Congressman John Larson. A strong IP system can also benefit India’s emerging economy by encouraging its brightest minds to invest in future innovation.

Both U.S. and international stakeholders continue to recognize the opportunity strong IP protections create for the global economy. Congressmen Eric Paulson and John Larson submitted an open letter that attracted over 170 co-signers seeking to level the playing field for U.S. businesses competing abroad. U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched The Alliance for Fair Trade with India (AFTI) last month to help preserve and grow the kinds of high-paying jobs that will be critical for our economic future. Along with the domestic efforts to move India forward in creating a better trade and innovation environment, many experts also agreed on the power of a global partnership network in strengthening medicine quality inspection and IP policy counseling. Andreas Seiter from World Bank suggested building high-standard global IP norms and a framework where trade partners can act at global level to fight counterfeit drugs.

As Caltrider has said, “The US should take a strategic approach which considers both administrative pressure and enforcement measures to address instances of outlying IP policies which harm innovation and particularly innovative pharmaceutical companies.” Pushing India to play by international IP laws can drive innovation and economic growth in both nations. This, in turn, would improve circumstances for patients around the world who need access to innovative, life-saving medicines.