MSF Testimony at US International Trade Commission Hearing on India’s Patent Laws

Sami Siva

The international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) provided oral testimony at a hearing of the U.S. International Trade Commission investigating India’s trade policies today in Washington, D.C.

The hearing comes several months after the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Committee on Finance asked the The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to begin an investigation on India’s policies, claiming that the country is restricting trade and violating intellectual property rights.

The investigation covers many aspects of trade, but Doctors Without Borders and other health groups are especially concerned about the access to medicines repercussions of this investigation. Rohit Malpani, head of policy and analysis at Doctors Without Borders' Access Campaign, testified about the continued importance of India’s generics industry, particularly in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The request for an investigation is the latest and most aggressive effort by members of Congress and pharmaceutical industry to exert pressure on India for intellectual property laws they have deemed anti-business and discriminatory, but which are completely in line with all existing international trade rules. The investigation comes several months after the Indian Patent Office denied Novartis a patent for one of its cancer medicines, and issued a compulsory license to override Bayer’s patent in India on a highly expensive cancer drug.