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June 6, 2002 | 1230 IST
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Patents Bill inconsistent: OPPI chief

BS Corporate Bureau

A number of provisions in the Patents (second amendment) Bill dilutes intellectual property protection to the detriment of the patent holder and favours local producers which are not the patent owners.

The provisions are also inconsistent with the international standards, said Ranjit Shahani, president of the Organisation of Pharmaceuticals Producers of India.

"A good policy must strike the correct balance between the 'healthcare goal' for the country and the 'industrial development goal'. An ideal IPR policy for the drug industry should have four determinants: national interest, scientific development and research and development, healthcare needs and availability of drugs at reasonable prices," said Shahani said at a seminar on 'Growth perspectives of Indian pharma industry: special focus on new patent act' on Wednesday.

"Since the government is going ahead with the second amendment, we have missed a golden opportunity to give a positive signal to the world community of researchers and investors. The foreign direct investment in India is just 1.1 per cent of the total FDI approved," he said.

This apart, the average investment in R&D in the country is 2 per cent of sales, though a few companies have enhanced their investment up to 5 per cent. Pharma firms in the US and Europe spend 20 per cent of their sales in R&D.

If product patents are expected only in 2005, investment in R&D would be put on hold till such time and corporate plans for the domestic market would be set back, Shahani said.

India has a unique advantage in cost competitive research. Discovery research can be done in India at one-fifteenth to one-twentieth of cost overseas. Though clinical trial standards have to be fully benchmarked to international standards, the cost of clinical trials, which is almost 30-35 per cent of the total R&D costs, can be reduced in India.

As per ORG-MARG retail audit, domestic pharma sales in India in 2001 was Rs 155.34 billion. The growth rate was 9.7 per cent. Most of the growth is on account of volume growth, the growth on account of pricing is 0.9 per cent. The low value growth is due to low prices of Indian medicines which are considered to be cheapest in the world.

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