Tag Archives: Campaign for Affordable Trastuzumab

Patented Patriotism: Kalyani Menon-Sen


The last few months have seen an unusual public engagement around questions of secularism, freedom of speech, sedition and the like, with furious debates everywhere from our campuses, streets and TV studios to the floor of Parliament. The budget session has been enlivened by scenes of high drama, with the leading lights of the Treasury benches bringing colour, sound and fury to their tutorials on patriotism and nationalism.

While these high-decibel histrionics have been appreciated and applauded by many, some unpatriotic elements are asking if they are designed to divert public attention away from behind-the-scenes negotiations and surreptitious deal-making that could undermine the rights and compromise the survival of millions of Indian citizens.

One such deal is now out in the open. In written submissions to the US Trade Representative, two US industry bodies (the US Chamber of Commerce and the US-India Business Council) have said that the Government of India has “privately reassured” them that it will not use the mechanism of compulsory licensing to allow commercial production of cheaper generic versions of patented medicines in India.[1]

The note of gleeful triumph in this announcement is unmistakable. Ever since the present government came to power, US trade bodies and pharma industry bodies have stepped up their attack on India’s patent system and demanded the dismantling of safeguards that protect citizens’ rights from being sacrificed to commercial concerns. The provision for compulsory licensing, empowering the government to override patents and allow the marketing of generic medicines in the public interest, is a prime target for this attack. Also in the firing line are measures to prevent patent holders from dragging out their monopoly by “evergreening” (making changes that do not enhace the therapeutic value of a product and patenting it anew), and allowing third parties (such as consumer groups or generic manufacturers) to challenge and oppose patent applications before they are finally granted. Continue reading Patented Patriotism: Kalyani Menon-Sen

Campaign for Affordable Trastuzumab

KALYANI MENON-SEN (on behalf of the Campaign for Affordable Trastuzumab)
The Campaign for Affordable Trastuzumab has called on the Commerce Minister to mark International Women’s Day 2013 with an announcement of compulsory licensing for Trastuzumab, a life-saving drug for women with HER2+ breast cancer. Trastuzumab, the patent for which is held by Swiss pharma giant Roche, is currently priced at Rs.6-8 lakhs for a full course of 12 injections, and is out of reach for all but the most privileged. An estimated 25,000 new cases of HER2+ breast cancer are recorded in India every year, with younger women in the majority among patients.
Trastuzumab has been recommended for compulsory licensing by an Expert Committee set up by the Health Ministry. The recommendation is currently under the consideration of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion in the Ministry of Commerce. Continue reading Campaign for Affordable Trastuzumab