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Intellectual Property in Medicine
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Intellectual Property in Medicine

Introduction: Access to medicine is a tool that plays a significant role in the lives of people. It has been a life-saving instrument which helps in eliminating diseases by its consumption, application or any other use as prescribed by doctors. World Health Organization with its research has reached to the conclusion estimating that one-third of the world’s population has no access to proper medicines, though the figure has changed from 2.4 billion to 4.3 billion between the year 1975 and 1999. India has been one of the countries where access to medicine has been a real-time issue for the government. As per statistics, 39 % of Indian people have issues relating to access to medicine. Income level of an individual also affects the life of the person regarding his right of access to medicine. Access treatment has also become a problematic thing as the medicine used in such treatment have become unaffordable or ineffective due to resistance or not sufficiently adapted to specific local conditions or constraints. Out of 1223 new medicines approved in the year 1975 and 1997, approximately one percent drugs specifically treat tropical diseases. India’s share coupled with Africa is just 2.3 % of the global market as compared to the developed nations.

Government’s Investment in Health Care

Though the government in its reports mention a higher amount of expenditure on healthcare in the country, globally the government sector is investing less as compared to the private sector. Government investment in percent to GDP (Gross Domestic Product) had a steady rise until the year 1990-1991 and it has remained to stagnate since then. The per capita expenditure is also same or stagnate since 2000-01. Cost of purchase of medicine is sixty- seventy percent of the treatment making it impossible for poor to pay the cost. At the same time, medicine accounted more for the countries which had a very low or low-income population as compare to high net income population. There is a long trend in communicable and non-communicable diseases with changes in lifestyles.

Reforms in patents

A dream of healthy India is becoming a reality but at the cost of time. There is a part of India that has adopted artificial intelligence, smart technologies for surgeries and operations and there's a part of India who is oblivious to advancement happening in the country. For a developing state, it is more important to make medicines which are more affordable so every person can afford to buy it. From the past two decades, complying with growth, India has made a significant contribution to healthcare by making medicines more accessible to the public. India as a developing nation needs new innovation in drugs, development in the therapeutic domain and building healthcare facilities. The revised version implemented by India regarding the Patent Law was made in order to comply with Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. India before enacting the amended act of 2005 was at the following stage:

  1. Indian pharmaceutical industries grew as one of the fastest-growing industry in the production of generic medicines.
  2. Indian market encouraged the domestic players for manufacturing the drugs.
  3. The Act granted the patent on the process as against the global rule of registering the product alone or singly under the Patent.
  4. There was a wider distribution of generic product or medicines at a generally reasonable price making it more affordable for people to buy.
  5. There was no big peep from global market players in-country or global big players showed no interest in the Indian market.

After the amendment act 2005 the position of India was:

  1. A rule was introduced to the act stating the duplication of any medicine before 1995 will be illegal.
  2. Global players in the pharmaceutical industry showed a gradual interest in Indian markets for their expansion.

A favourable policy relating to Intellectual Property is required for attracting the investment in India by foreign players, patent registration system should be made more smooth eventually catalyzing the research and development in the healthcare sector.

Make in India has brought a lot of changes in patent law encouraging the patent protection for innovation. As per the report provided by the patent registration office in India, it has been stated that the pharmaceutical industry is the major contributor in the patent registration, registering more than 20,000 patent since 2015. However taking them into consideration it's been said that patenting the product will eventually make the price of the product higher, making it unaffordable for people to buy. But Supreme Court has been the custodial of the rights of common man, as the needs of the common man have never been compromised. Such claim has been proved not so long ago but in 2013 in Novartis case of Glivec. In 2013, the Supreme Court denied the plea for patenting the cancer drug Glivec by Novartis.

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