And the misinformation campaign continues……….

Early this morning, PharmaBiz, carried a news item on the Government accepting the Technical Expert Group’s (a.ka. the Mashelkar Committee Report a.k.a TEG Report) conclusions. We had carried a post on this last night over here. In its report PharmaBiz has quoted an NGO – the National Working Group on Patent Law – as having stated in a letter to the Commerce Ministry that “Apparently, the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee should take precedence over those of the Mashelkar Committee on the two issues under consideration, and, therefore, the recommendations of the Mashelkar Committee should be disregarded and appropriate amendments introduced in the amended Patents Act 1970.” The PharmaBiz Report further states that the Parliamentary Committee on the patent system had concluded that “the patentable pharmaceutical product should be restricted only to ‘new drug molecules”.
(We had commented on the Parliamentary Committee Report over here.)
Errors in the PharmaBiz Report:
(i) The one sentence (in bold) quoted by the PharmaBiz Report was present in the Parliamentary Report but it has been taken completely out of context. This line was presented in the very last line of para 5.52 and it was put in there in the context of issues that were being considered by the Committee and this single sentence did not form a part of the conclusions of the committee. In fact if you dig a little deeper you’ll discover that the entire para 5.52 was in fact lifted directly from the submission of Mr. Keayla of the Centre for Study of Global Trade System and Development (he is also associated with the NWGPL) on p.93 of the Report. One sentence cannot constitute a conclusion.
(ii) Even presuming that this was the conclusion of the Parliamentary Report even then what PharmaBiz and the NWGPL failed to point out was that the TEG Report was not asked to consider whether patentable pharmaceutical product should be restricted only to new drug molecules. Ideally that should have been the mandate but instead the mandate given to it was on whether or not it would be TRIPs compliant to limit the scope of patentability to only new drug molecules or new chemical entities. Therefore given the different mandate of both committees there is no question of one report taking precedence over the other.
(iii) The final proof of the fact that the Parliamentary Committee did not in fact come to this conclusion that patentability should be limited to new drug molecules are its comments on Section 3(d) at para 5.35. Instead of proposing wide-ranging amendments to Section 3(d) in order to restrict the scope of patentability to new drug molecules (as it should have if the conclusions as interpreted by the PharmaBiz Report are to be believed) the Parliamentary Committee Report only proposed a clarification of the terms ‘efficacy’ & ‘significantly’ in Section 3(d).
These crucial issues have unfortunately been mixed up by both PharmaBiz and the NWGPL.
Prashant Reddy

Prashant Reddy

T. Prashant Reddy graduated from the National Law School of India University, Bangalore, with a B.A.LLB (Hons.) degree in 2008. He later graduated with a LLM degree (Law, Science & Technology) from the Stanford Law School in 2013. Prashant has worked with law firms in Delhi and in academia in India and Singapore. He is also co-author of the book Create, Copy, Disrupt: India's Intellectual Property Dilemmas (OUP).

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