May 23, 2013
The Honorable Chairman Max Baucus
United States Senate
511 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510
Dear Chairman Baucus:
As the Trans-Pacific Partnership, “fast-track” trade authority, and the proposed U.S.-EU trade pact take center stage in Congress, we urge members and the administration to embrace protocols that respect and protect intellectual property as part of responsibly negotiated trade agreements among nations.
India is the latest example of the international erosion of intellectual property rights. One of the world’s fastest growing economies, India would do well to protect the spirit of innovation, which has driven that country to out-produce developed and developing countries in an array of industries. But recent judicial decisions suggest India is moving in the wrong direction on intellectual property.
Last month, India’s Supreme Court denied Novartis, a Swiss pharmaceutical company, patent protection for its Glivec cancer medication. Forty other countries – including the U.S., China and Russia – recognize Novartis’ basic intellectual property right in Glivec. The Supreme Court’s defenders say the price of the medication puts it out of reach for most Indians. The fact is, 95% of Indian patients using Glivec get it for free, and the remaining 5% receive it at reduced, subsidized prices.
To be sure, the court’s blatant disregard for intellectual property rights harms Novartis. But the real losers in this decision are the Indian people, and cancer patients around the world. Without clear IP rights, innovative companies that require significant up-front costs have little incentive to invest billions of dollars and decades of time into creating new products that benefit society at large. This is especially true in the area of medical research, where bringing a life-saving treatment concept to fruition requires an average of $1.3 billion in investment and 10-15 years of research.
The implications of the India Supreme Court’s decision are far-reaching and not limited to medicines. The lack of respect for intellectual property rights displayed in this case will give pause to any innovative industries considering investing in India. The Indian government must recognize IP protections that allow companies like Novartis to pursue innovations that save lives while creating jobs and stimulating economic growth.
As we negotiate bilateral and multilateral trade agreements around the globe, our top priority must be protecting the intellectual property rights of North American companies. As you communicate with the US Trade Representative on behalf of your constituents, please remember: free trade works and protectionism doesn’t, but free trade requires intellectual property protocols that both incentivize and protect private U.S. investment abroad.
Trade Alliance to Promote Prosperity