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No Pills for Poor People?Understanding the Disembowelment of India’s Patent Regime

Dwijen Rangnekar

CSGR Working Paper No. 176/05

The recent amendment to the Patent Act, 1970 brings India into full compliance with its obligations under the TRIPs Agreement, in particular allowing for product patents in the area of pharmaceuticals and agrichemicals. This amendment, the third to the 1970 Act, was characterised by a relatively muted rhetoric and a remarkable level of shared consensus amongst campaigners and critics. Focusing largely on domestic compulsions, as opposed to the global, the paper explores whether the shared consensus sets too narrow an agenda for patent reform. The paper suggests that the limits to implementing TRIPs are equally on account of ambivalence within the government with respect to intellectual property and the changing self- interest of sections of Indian pharma. Thus, despite a favourable international climate in the area of intellectual property (read Seattle, Cancun and Doha), the patent reform in India has been doubly constrained by the narrow agenda and domestic factors.

Keywords: TRIPs Agreement, patent reform, India, pharmaceutical industry, globalisation.