My name is Elizabeth Rajasingh.
I want to talk about a trade dispute between India and the United States, involving patents on a drug for leukemia.
Dasatinib is a drug sold by Bristol Myers, under the name Sprycel, for patients with Ph+ acute lymphoblastic leukemia and Ph+ chronic myeloid leukemia.
First registered in 2006, Sprycel has been highly profitable. In 2013, BMS earned $1.3 billion in sales, and more than $3 billion over the past three years.
Current cost of treatment with Sprycel in the US is more than $100,000 a year.
The current cost of treatment with Sprycel in India is around $31,000 a year. To put that number in perspective, the annual per capita income in India is only $1,570.
The price at which BMS decides to sell Sprycel puts treatment out of reach for the majority of patients, worldwide, who need the drug.
In response to its high cost of treatment, the Indian Ministry of Health requested a compulsory license on the patents for Dasatinib.
A compulsory license on the dasatinib patents would allow generic competition, leading to more affordable prices.
However, following the United States Trade Representative’s announcement of an out-of-cycle review of India’s Status in the Special 301 Report, the Indian government has delayed making a decision on the matter, citing concerns that a compulsory license would have a negative impact on US/Indo foreign relations.
The Special 301 Report is essentially a list of countries who are potential intellectual property rights offenders.
Officials in India believe that USTR wants to pressure and intimidate the Indian government into blocking a compulsory licence on Dasatinib.
We are asking Ambassador Michael Froman, the head of USTR, to meet with health groups about the dasatinib compulsory licensing issue. If USTR is in fact blocking the compulsory license, we want them to stop doing so. If USTR does not object to the compulsory license, we want USTR to make that clear.
When we know more, we will post an update.