In a submission to the Office of U.S. Trade Representative (USTR),
the Chamber of Commerce requested that India be classified a
Priority Foreign Country, a tag given to the worst offenders when it
comes to protecting intellectual property, and one that could
trigger trade sanctions.
India is currently on the U.S. government's Priority Watch List for
countries whose practices on protecting intellectual property
Washington believes should be monitored closely.
In its new submission, the Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC)
of the Chamber of Commerce said: "We highlight India as a country
with particular challenges with respect to intellectual property
"Because India has not shown a record of engagement on these issues
and the environment has deteriorated significantly since last year,
we are now recommending that India be designated a Priority Foreign
Country," it said.
The perspective from India is that many patented drugs are too
costly for most people. The government in New Delhi is pushing to
increase access to life-saving treatments where only 15 percent of
1.2 billion people are covered by health insurance.
India received the lowest score in the trade group's IP Index
released last week, performing poorly in all six of its rating
categories — patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets and
market access, enforcement, and membership and ratification of
The U.S. industry trade group for drugmakers, Pharmaceutical
Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), is scheduled to
detail its concerns about India and other countries to the U.S.
Trade Representative later on Friday.
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The recommendations are for a document known as a Special 301
Report, which is prepared annually by the Office of the United
States Trade Representative.
It is quite possible that PhRMA will also recommend placing India on
the worst offenders' list based on concerns of many of its member
The industry push for a tougher line on India was first revealed in
a Reuters report on Thursday, although at least one member, British
drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline <GSK.L>, has called for constructive
engagement with Indian officials rather than a harder line stance.
Calls for turning up the pressure on India come at a time when an
Indian government committee is reviewing patented medicines sold by
foreign drugmakers to see if so-called compulsory licenses, which in
effect break exclusivity rights, can be issued for some of them in
an effort to bring down costs, two senior government officials told
The drugs being considered for such patent-breaking licenses are
used for treating cancer, diabetes, hepatitis and HIV, said the
sources, declining to give details. No timeline has been given for
completion of the India review process.
(Reporting by Bill Berkrot; editing by
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