Indian envoy to US defends pharma industry

India’s envoy to America S Jaishankar has strongly defended the country’s pharmaceutical industry, which has been accused of piracy and counterfeiting in the US.

In an interview to a news agency, Jaishankar said he was “very surprised” by US Senator Orrin Hatch’s recent remark, describing India as “the biggest battlefield” for intellectual property rights and accusing the country of allowing “rampant piracy and counterfeiting” for the benefit of its own industries.

“I would very honestly describe it as scare-mongering tactics and, frankly, I don’t think it’s helpful,” he told the news agency. “If there is an expectation that by doing this, we are setting ourselves up for a serious conversation, I think someone's got something wrong,” he added.

“Affordable healthcare is the number one issue in the United States. There is almost a presumption here that what is a legitimate concern for Americans should not be a legitimate concern for Indians,” he said.

A recent report by the US Chamber of Commerce ranked India at the bottom of 25 countries in protection of intellectual property.

With the US companies complaining about “discriminatory trade practices” of India, Washington has been pressing New Delhi hard since last year to address concerns over “intellectual property protection, local content restrictions, limits on foreign direct investment and taxation problems”.

New Delhi however claims that India’s IPR regime is based on “comprehensive laws, detailed rules to back them up, and strong enforcement mechanisms, including for dispute resolution”. It also points out that India’s Patents Act is “one of the most comprehensive legislations” and “rigorously enforced”.

The Government late last year pointed out that the US nationals and corporations got the “highest share” (about 20-30 per cent) of all patents granted in India.

“The award of patents is a transparent legal process, with decisions and processes subject to legal scrutiny,” it noted.

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