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Drug Patents in India Helping Promote Innovation
Date:4/30/2010

ive patent protection, as India currently does, won't improve the health of Indians.

Small innovations that build on existing knowledge are the true backbone and a specific strength of the pharma industry. Yet, Indian laws prohibit certain types of pharmaceutical innovations from patent protection, thereby discouraging research. Indeed, this policy hurts Indian patients the most.

There are many meaningful benefits of continued research on existing medicines. For instance, drug formulations and delivery systems can be optimised for greater effectiveness in India's hot, humid climate. Paediatric formulations could be developed for babies suffering from diseases more often found in adults. It could also promote the development of treatment for diseases prevalent in India — tuberculosis, malaria, filariasis and other tropical diseases — where breakthroughs are unfortunately rare.

Innovation, research and patent protection are critical to introducing new drugs into the market. Innovations and effective drugs are inseparable, as diseases constantly mutate and many have inadequate treatments

Without patent protection, innovations decline, as R&D needs immense investments. Due to high, ever-increasing R&D costs, only two in 10 approved medicines earn more than the average cost of developing a new drug. Statistics are telling: a new drug discovery cost around $138 million in 1975, $318 million in 1987 and more than $1.3 billion in 2006.

The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, has acknowledged the critical role of innovation at the 97th Indian Science Congress held in Thiruvananthapuram recently: “Our Government has declared 2010-20 as the ‘Decade of Innovations'. We need new solutions in many areas… in healthcare, in energy, in urban infrastructure, in water management, in transportation… The country must develop an Innovation Eco-system to stimulate innovations… And innovativ
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