Advances by Pharmaceutical Companies Have Saved Lives, Create Jobs And Boosted PA’s Economy but Intellectual Property Violations from India Are a Threat
Washington, DC- Ahead of Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip to India, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) has sent a letter urging him to use the trip as an opportunity to confront the intellectual property violations that Indian companies are engaging in. Those violations are having a significant impact on the pharmaceutical industry which is responsible for 200,000 Pennsylvania jobs and a $40 billion industry. Advances in medicine have saved lives throughout the world, created jobs and served a key element of the Commonwealth’s economy. Those advances are threatened by the theft of intellectual property.
“When foreign companies engage in intellectual property theft violations, it puts Pennsylvania jobs at risk,” Senator Casey said. “This issue is about 200,000 Pennsylvania jobs and a $40 billion industry that is a driver of our state’s economy. Secretary Kerry should use this upcoming trip as an opportunity to confront this problem and ensure Pennsylvania’s businesses are competing on a level playing field.”
The full text of Senator Casey’s letter can be seen below:
The Honorable John F. Kerry
Secretary of State
Dear Secretary Kerry:
As you prepare to travel to India later this month, I would like to express my concerns about the ongoing violation of U.S. pharmaceutical companies' intellectual property (IP) rights in that country. I respectfully urge you to raise these concerns with the Indian government during your trip.
Advances by the American pharmaceutical industry have saved countless lives around the world, and have made a significant contribution to our Nation's economic growth. These innovations have been driven by more than $500 billion in research and development spending by the industry since 2000. According to the National Science Foundation, this investment accounts for nearly one-fifth of all domestic research and development spending in the United States. It also acts as a significant job creator, supporting more than 4 million jobs across the country. In Pennsylvania alone, biopharmaceutical companies produce nearly $40 billion a year and support nearly 200,000 jobs.
Enforcement of IP protections is critical to the biopharmaceutical industry's ability to thrive. Unfortunately, it is my understanding that Indian companies have repeatedly been allowed to violate U.S. pharmaceutical patents. Specifically, American companies have alleged that at least nine separate products have been subject to patent violations in India since 2012. These infringements have taken a variety of different forms. In some cases, American companies have had their patents denied or revoked, despite widespread approval of the same patents over the rest of the world. In another case, an Indian company has been granted a compulsory license to allow it to manufacture a generic copy of the patented medicine. The Indian government sought to justify the compulsory license, in part, on the basis that the product was imported rather than manufactured in India.
The Indian Government has suggested that these decisions, which violate biopharmaceutical company patents, are necessary to provide access to medicines. However, it is my understanding that the drugs in question are often available to many patients for free or at a heavily discounted price through patient access programs. These programs are sponsored by pharmaceutical companies to help those in need gain access to their products. Further, the Indian government must do its part to ensure access to adequate healthcare for its people. While I recognize challenges of extending healthcare, India's approach to intellectual property and innovative medicines is not the answer. Medicines themselves are but one component of access. Sustainable solutions to healthcare financing, infrastructure, environmental and societal factors are also important factors in expanding patient access.
While American companies face serious threats to their IP in India, Indian companies are unhindered in their ability to compete in U.S. markets. India has a growing pharmaceutical industry, exporting $13 billion worth of drugs last year. An increasing number of these sales are to North America, with some Indian companies making more than 40 percent of their sales here. The IP of these Indian companies is fully protected under U.S. law. American companies should be allowed to play by the same set of rules as their Indian competitors. The uneven playing field facing American pharmaceutical companies reduces their ability to make the kinds of investments that create jobs and eventually lead to lifesaving drugs. This is a serious situation that makes it difficult for U.S. businesses to gain access to India's market and must be examined and dealt with, particularly as other countries begin to look at India as a model to be emulated. During your upcoming visit to India, I ask that you discuss recent violations of IP rights with the Indian government and urge them to honor the rights of American pharmaceutical companies.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator