SJM backs India on waiver of intellectual property provisions
October 15, 2020
The Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM) has welcomed India’s proposal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) seeking the waiver of certain provisions related to the protection and enforcement of intellectual property (IP) rights to facilitate the availability of affordable medical products for the effective prevention, containment, and treatment of Covid-19.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, SJM has written that the proposal is the need of the hour as humanity needs access to affordable medical products to effectively respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Though so much public money has been channelised for the development of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics the companies that are developing these products are not ready to share the know-how and other IP rights to facilitate generic production. In the absence of a large number of manufacturers, it would be impossible to meet the needs of the medical products required for the Covid-19 response. The government should act to put an end to the greed of pharmaceutical transnational corporations,” the letter, signed by SJM’s national co-convenor Ashwani Mahajan, said.
Earlier this month, India and South Africa made a formal submission to the WTO, seeking a waiver on certain provisions of the international agreements that regulate intellectual property rights to speed up efforts to prevent, treat and contain the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the communication, the countries said there were several reports about intellectual property rights hindering or potentially hindering the timely provisioning of affordable medical products to Covid-19 patients. They added that a particular concern for countries with insufficient or no manufacturing capacity were the requirements for the cumbersome and lengthy process of the import and export of pharmaceutical products.
The SJM has referred to the variation in the price of Remdesivir which costs less than USD 1 but is sold in India between Rs 4,000 and Rs 5,400 as an example of how licenses incapacitate Indian companies to supply in middle-income countries.
“Various initiatives to facilitate access to medical products for Covid-19 responses such as ACT-Accelerator, COVAX facility or CTAP so far failed to ensure technology transfer and local production. Instead of facilitating technology transfer, ACT-Accelerator and COVAX Facility reinforce the IP regime and delay the disseminating of technology,” the letter further stated.
The SJM has urged the Prime Minister to reach out to all “like-minded countries” for the support of the proposal and create a broad coalition for the adoption of the waiver of certain provisions of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement.
“SJM also requests you to initiate measures under Section 66 of the Patents Cat for the cancellation of the patent on Remedsivir, which was granted against the provisions of the Indian Patents Act,” the letter stated.