The US government has retained India on the “priority watch list” for its alleged poor enforcement of intellectual property (IP) regulations even while it acknowledged steps taken by the Indian government to promote IP protection.
In its latest Special 301 report released by the United States Trade Representative (USTR), the US termed India as “one of the world’s most challenging major economies” with respect to protection and enforcement of IP.
The ‘Special 301 Report’ slammed India and China as leading sources of counterfeit medicines distributed globally with 20% of all pharmaceutical products sold in the Indian market estimated to be counterfeits.
“While it may not be possible to determine an exact figure, studies have suggested that up to 20% of drugs sold in the Indian market are counterfeit and could represent a serious threat to patient health and safety,” the report claimed as it said that China and India were the leading sources of counterfeit medicines distributed globally.
“A 2017 report from the OECD and the European Union Intellectual Property Office, ‘Mapping the Real Routes of Trade in Fake Goods,’ revealed India to be a key producer and exporter of counterfeit foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals, perfumes and cosmetics, textiles, footwear, electronics and electrical equipment, toys, games, and sporting equipment. The 2017 report also found that 55% of global seizures of counterfeit pharmaceuticals, by total value, originated in India — making it by far the largest producer,” it added.
However, India has outrightly rejected allegations in a US report about the country being a chief source of counterfeit medicines to the world and said it is an attack on low cost generic drugs — crucial to make healthcare affordable.
“We strongly disagree with the observations made by USTR. We do not know the genesis and methodology of their findings. Instead, we view this as opposition to low cost generics and the thriving Indian drug manufacturing industry which is the ‘Pharmacy of the world’,” health secretary Preeti Sudan said.
Emphasising that generic drugs are low cost but quality products, Sudan said only certified pharmaceutical products are exported from here. Locally, over 75% of sales come from generic medicines.