Groups, individuals write to Senator Wyden, appalled at pressure on India over drug patents

On June 23, 2017, Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Representatives Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Richard Neal (D-MA) wrote to President Trump about “trade and investment barriers” in India. The four members of Congress are respectively the chair and ranking members of the Senate Finance and the House Ways and Means Committee.

The so called “big 4” letter (copy here) urged President Trump to pressure India Prime Minister Modi on the issue of intellectual property rights, and specifically signaled out “weak standards and insufficient enforcement” of “pharmaceutical patents.” This pressure has been widely reported in the India pressure, as measures that will increase prices and reduce access to live savings drugs. (See here and here)

On June 30, 2017, several groups and individuals wrote to Senator Wyden, objecting to his role in pressuring India on drug patents, given his previous support to developing countries in trade disputes involving drug patents.

A PDF of the letter to Wyden is here. The text follows:

30 June 2017

The Honorable Senator Ron Wyden
221 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg.
Washington, D.C., 20510

Dear Senator Wyden:

We write regarding your joint letter of June 23, 2017 with Senator Hatch and Representatives Brady and Neal to President Trump, in which you urge the President to address concerns regarding India’s intellectual property rights policies.

In that letter, you specifically mention pharmaceutical patents amidst discussion of “India’s weak standards,” and cite a 2014 U.S. International Trade Commission report calling for India’s standards for IP protection to be made comparable to U.S. and Western European levels. We are surprised and dismayed that you are pressuring India to grant additional patents on drugs and vaccines.

In 2015, the income per capita was $1,590 USD in India, and $55,980 — more than 35 times higher — in the United States. A country with as much poverty as India should not enforce patents on drugs and vaccines the same way as high-income industrialized countries. Moreover, India is the most important source of low cost drugs in the world, and a critically important source of affordable generic products in many developed and developing countries.

The practical effect of the type of trade pressures you advocate is to enhance the monopoly power and raise the prices of new drugs for cancer and many other diseases. This is appalling.


Ann Pickar, Founder, Portland Area Global AIDS Coalition, Portland, Oregon, Chair, Africa Connections, First Unitarian Church of Portland, Oregon, USA
Christa Sprinkle, Portland, Oregon, USA
Dashiell Love, Newport, Oregon

All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN), India
Aparajita Das, Faculty of law, India
Dr. Mira Shiva, New Delhi, India
Dr. P.R.K. Murti, Retired Professor, University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad, India
Dr Gopal Dabade, President, Drug Action Forum Karnataka, Dharwad, India
Karin kotian, Mumbai, India
Priyank Kapadia, Mumbai Maharashtra India
Swaraj Paul Barooah, SpicyIP, Bangalore, India
T G Agitha, Professor, IUCIPRS, India

Global Health Justice Partnership, Initiative of Yale Law School & Yale School of Public Health
Knowledge Ecology International (KEI)
Public Citizen
Social Security Works
The Other 98%
Universities Allied for Essential Medicines (UAEM)

Dean Baker, co-founder and director, CEPR, Washington, DC, USA
George Carter, Founder/Director, Foundation for Integrative AIDS Research, Brooklyn, NY
Hilary McQuie, Director of US Policy, Health Global Access Project, Washington DC
Manon Ress, Union for Affordable Cancer Treatment (UACT)
Mark S. King, Person Living with AIDS, Baltimore, MD
Theo Smart, ACT UP, New York, NY

Amy Kapczynski, Professor of Law at Yale Law School, New Haven, CT
Gregg Gonsalves, Assistant Professor, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT
Matthew Flynn, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA
Nicole Hassoun, Fellow, Hope & Optimism Project, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York
Shobita Parthasarathy, Associate Professor, Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Daniel White, New York, NY
Holly Horne, Flushing NY USA
John James, Philadelphia, PA
John Weir, Brooklyn, NY, USA
Michael Luciano, Charleston, SC USA
Patrice Parker, Anchorage, Alaska, US
Richard Jackman, Bellingham, WA USA
Saundra Johnson, Minneapolis, MN 55406

Ante Wessels, Vrijschrift Foundation, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
David Banta, Professor Emeritus, Maastricht University, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Joan Rovira, Professor Emeritus, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
Rob Camp, Barcelona/Catalunya/Spain

Dr Dzintars Gotham, London, UK
Fifa Rahman, PhD Student, Intellectual Property, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom
Michael I Hutnik, Managing Director, Multi-dimensional Re:Align, Guildford, UK
Rachel Logan, Matrix Chambers, London, United Kingdom

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