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Scrutiny
  
If it’s a stupid debate, get us in...
Patent linkage can solve various issues in pharma sector; great, kill it!
12/06/2008

First of all, what is this concept of patent linkage? It’s actually ‘new’ wine in the same ridiculous ‘old’ bottle. If a country imposes ‘patent linkage’, then no other drug producer can market similar drugs in the country until the period of patent gets expired. Patent linkage is supposedly the answer to the worries of various countries (mainly underdeveloped and developing), who fear that simply accepting global patents would ensure that global Big Pharma companies get a stranglehold on domestic markets. Countries like Singapore, Australia and China have strict patent linkage provisions. The WTO is dramatically strict in ordering its members to get patent linkage provisions in place in their country. Of course, the mother of all patent linkage acts was the 1984 US Hatch-Waxman Act, which formalised the rules for such linkage.

The question! What does a developing country do when faced with the issue of imposing patent linkage? Would not R&D get affected if such a provision is not included in the legal rulebooks of the country? Would it not be unfair on all those innovators who have spent time and money to invent a radical drug? Isn’t it a stupid debate to argue that patent linkage should not be allowed?

Like we said, if it’s a stupid debate, get us in wherever you’re having it. We say, kill patent linkage. It is ridiculous for any developing or underdeveloped country to have a blanket patent linkage provision; the dangers – of Big Pharma dominating the domestic sector and monopolising prices – are too many. Forget that, even the EU, which has given birth to many drug producers, has kept a blind eye on such regulatory schemes. Malaysia has rejected it. And interestingly, even China, though claiming patent linkage exists, has no written document to prove that. So what do these countries do. That’s simple. They take each product’s patent issue on a case by case basis. There is no blanket approval given ever. And that, dear Tom, is how it should be in this crazy cartoon of a global debate and argument...

By:- B&E
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