IP Alliance opposes India's continued placement on USTR’s Priority Watch List

Shardul Nautiyal, MumbaiMonday, June 10, 2024, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

In response to India being placed on the Priority Watch List in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) 2024 Special 301 Report, the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IP Alliance), an alliance of 23 leading pharmaceutical companies, has made a submission and has proposed a US-India affordable medicine partnership. 

The Office of the USTR has once again placed India on the 'Priority Watch List' in its 2024 Special 301 Report on Intellectual Property (IP) Protection and Enforcement.

This report seeks to submit information and perspectives that may aid the USTR in determining whether India provides adequate and effective protection of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). It also seeks information on fair and equitable market access to the US pharmaceutical industry.

According to the submission, “In view of these substantial and meaningful advancements, the IP Alliance strongly contends that India's continued placement on the Priority Watch List in the Special 301 Report process is unjustified. The current categorization overlooks and undervalues the remarkable progress and dedicated efforts made by India in the realm of intellectual property rights. Therefore, with compelling evidence and firm conviction, IP Alliance urges the reconsideration of India's position, advocating for its removal from the Priority Watch List. This call for action is grounded in the belief that India's achievements in IPR protection and enforcement deserve recognition and respect on the global stage.”

It further states that the array of actions and developments outlined in this submission clearly shows India's unwavering commitment to enhancing its IPR regime. These strides extend beyond mere compliance; they exemplify a proactive and strategic approach to aligning with international standards, particularly those set forth in the TRIPS Agreement and underscored by the Doha Declaration. This submission to the Special 301 Report of 2023 aims to address the concerns raised by USTR, particularly those pertaining to the pharmaceutical sector and extends to other relevant intellectual property rights such as patents. This document sets forth a series of significant initiatives undertaken by the Government of India, the Indian judiciary, and other stakeholders. These concerted efforts have been directed at not only strengthening but also thoroughly modernizing India's intellectual property framework.

Sharing his views, Sudarshan Jain, secretary general, IP Alliance stated, “This submission addresses the patent issues relevant to the pharmaceutical industry as India is compliant to TRIPS provision. IP Alliance’s submission highlights that the IPR ecosystem in India has been strengthened considerably and steps have been taken to address enforcement of patent laws.”

He further explained that the US and India should work together towards making medicine affordable and to help build a resilient supply chain. India supplies 47% of the generics in the US market. India has been contributing to over 200 billion US Dollars savings per year to the US healthcare system. The use of Indian generics in the US resulted in savings of USD 1.3 trillion in the last ten years. IPA has proposed a US- India Affordable Medicines Partnership for access of medicines for patients around the world. 

IP Alliance’s membership collectively accounts for about 85 per cent of private sector investment in pharmaceutical research and development (R&D) in India. It also accounts for more than 80 per cent of the country’s exports of pharmaceuticals and over 64 per cent of the domestic market. IP Alliance therefore has a vital interest in the protection of innovations, not only for developing cost-effective and useful improvements to existing medicines, but also for discoveries of new medicines.