Updated on 26 October 2012
How do you view the current regulatory scenario in India?
India needs to tackle far more serious issues that impede healthcare in the country than look at striking at the roots of innovation. Intellectual property rights are the drivers of innovation and it is a harsh reality that if we stifle intellectual property rights, we will actually hamper innovation to the extent that we will have no new medicines to meet unmet medical needs.
Lack of access to medicines in countries like ours is caused by factors such as poverty, lack of a functioning infrastructure and the lack of will to address these issues. The government needs to address these issues on a war-footing, rather than look at ways to undermine innovative research and the pharmaceutical industry.
What do you think needs to be done to improve healthcare access in India?
Generics alone do not solve the issue of access. Issues such as lack of diagnosis, infrastructure and distribution, all act as barriers to access. Governments, NGOs and companies need to work together to find innovative solutions to these issues. There are other methods employed by pharma companies to improve access, which I have already mentioned.
The very nature of patents is that they are time-limited. Generics manufacturers rely on a constant stream of products going off patent each year that they can copy and market. That is how their businesses grows. As a major manufacturer of generics, Novartis understands and recognizes the contribution of generics once drug patents expire. Our concern is with the non-recognition of intellectual property rights that ultimately help sustain and advance pharmaceutical research and development.