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US fears for patents on next-generation drugs in India

Published on Mar 6, 2014 8:09 PM

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI (REUTERS) - The United States on Thursday voiced concern over protection of patents on safer and more effective next-generation medicines in India amid fears that authorities are considering allowing more Indian firms to make new varieties of cheap generic drugs still on patent.

An Indian committee is reviewing up to a dozen patented drugs to see if so-called compulsory licences, which in effect break exclusivity rights, can be issued for some of them, two senior government officials said last month.

"I understand that India has issued one compulsory licence, but there's a lot of concern about what additional licences are being considered," US Assistant Secretary of State Nisha Biswal told reporters in the Indian capital.

"There's concern about ... whether next-generation drugs would be protected, and how do you ensure that investments that are being made to develop ever-more effective drugs can then be continued."

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