Thursday, March 15, 2007

It's getting worse for Mashelkar

After the original allegations of plagiarism (minor) and sloppy analysis (major), followed by some more (and more serious) allegations of plagiarism in an academic work, the news is getting worse for Mashelkar. This time the accusation is that he has signed on two different reports with radically different conclusions!

You may recall that the Mashelkar panel concluded that making incremental innovations non-patentable (which is what India's current law states) is not compatible with TRIPS. However, back in 2002, as a part of another committee, Mashelkar seems to have held the opposite view:

The Mashelkar Committee conveniently ignored the recommendations of the 2002 study entitled "Integrating Intellectual Property Rights and Development Policy" produced by United Kingdom Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, an authoritative international group. It also ignored the conclusions reached by the World Health Organisation (WHO) Commission on Intellectual Property Rights, Innovation and Public Health in its 2006 report.

Both these international bodies have unambiguously clarified that "since there is no definition of invention in the TRIPS Agreement, developing countries may determine in their own ways, the definition of an invention, the criteria for judging patentability, the rights conferred on patent owners and what exceptions to patentability are permitted".

In fact, the U.K. Commission specifically recommends that developing countries should aim at "limiting the scope of subject matter that can be patented". Mashelkar was himself a member of the U.K. Commission. Furthermore, the Pharmaceutical Research and Development Committee (PRDC), which produced its report in 2001 and was chaired by Mashelkar, also recommended that "pharmaceutical patents should be granted only for new chemical entities or new medical entities".

In the meantime, the government has given Mashelkar to clean up his Panel's report -- in three months. The Business Standard's report has some more damaging things to say!

Some more critiques: Praful Bidwai's column, an interview with Dilip G. Shah Secretary-General, Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance, and an interview with Dr. Yusuf Hamied, Chairman of Cipla, a major Indian pharmaceutical company.