Press releases do not usually accuse organisations like PhRMA, the GIPC or the NIM of engaging in a “campaign to downgrade the reputation of Indian Pharmaceuticals” or describe them as “forces desperate to squelch competition.”
Similarly, in-Pharmatechnologist.com rarely receives email responses to questions that include stuff like “You ask about nefarious and acrimonious tactics* employed by various US-based organizations, i.e. by PhRMA, GIPC, NAM, AFTI, et al, against the Indian pharmaceutical industry...”
So, when India First Group LLC’s press release and the email from India Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) secretary general, DG Shah, reached our inbox we thought we’d take a closer look.
According to the release India First Group is a US consulting firm tasked with countering the “anti-Indian, negative advocacy campaigns” the IPA-supported generics group, the Coalition for Affordable Care, says are being run by “forces backed by big pharma.”
It also says that: “Like David against Goliath, the Coalition for Affordable Care - with inner strength and moral authority - will aim to blunt this special interest offensive.”
India First – which is led by former U.S.-India Business Council President, Ron Somers – did not go into detail about the alleged anti-Indian campaigns.
However, Mr Shah from the IPA did set out specific grievances, the first of which relates to newspaper ads “characterizing India as an outlier on Intellectual Property protection” which appeared during a 2013 visit to the US by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
“The advertisements were promulgated and paid for by Branded MNC Pharma, relying on a biased survey - the GIPC Intellectual Property Index - prepared by the same group, which ranked India at the bottom of the list of all countries globally - an outrageous characterization by any measure.”
At the time of writing the GIPC, the Global International Property Centre of the US Chamber of Commerce, had not responded to a request for comment.
Shah said that another grievance is “an investigation was promulgated by Branded MNC Pharma in the US Senate, which tasked the US International Trade Commission (USITC) to launch a full-scale investigation against India, the result of which is still pending.”
The results of the investigation are due in November.
The IPA’s third allegation also relates to intellectual property protection in India.
According to Shah: “PhRMA, GIPC, NAM, AFTI and others have made no bones about their intention to downgrade India pursuant to the Special 301 Review process at the USTR to "Priority Foreign Country" status - the lowest possible ranking, which could spur trade sanctions against India - this in the face of India's recently concluded National elections!
“The final Special 301 Review by the USTR has been postponed, to coincide now with the maiden visit to the US of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will arrive on US soil in September. The prospect of a 301 downgrade is an insulting way to greet India's new Prime Minister.”
PhRMA had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.
Interestingly for an organization that has accused the US drug sector of “nefarious and acrimonious tactics” and of engaging in “campaigns to downgrade the reputation of Indian pharmaceuticals,” the IPA is keen to build bridges via the Coalition for Affordable Care.
Shah told us “There is a place in the larger universe of healthcare for high quality, low cost generic medicines to co-exist with innovation-based pharmaceuticals, so as to provide access to affordable care for a greater number of the world's population.
“Collaboration between these two camps, between high quality/low cost generics and innovators, not acrimonious mud-slinging, is the need of the hour. That is the clarion message of the Coalition for Affordable Care: collaboration, not acrimony. “
*not the terms we used when we asked for information about the India First allegations.