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So, Who Gets to Fund Research on Malaria?

Madhumita Chakraborty

By Sudip Chaudhuri
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2005, pp. 358, Rs. 650.00

VOLUME XXX NUMBER 1-2 January-February 2006

The Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) have inspired close to 300 tomes and treatises since the agreement among the signatories of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) came into effect in 1995. The last word is not out yet, as the true implications of the patents and copyright regimes in developing nations (that are implementing TRIPS this year), bound to provoke more fencing among the contrarians, better known as “economists”, around the world. So far TRIPS has inspired diatribes as diverse as the scathing critique by the Professors Peter Drahos and John Braithwaite (‘Information Feudalism – Who Owns the Knowledge Economy’) who said that the patents regime had only bred a new kind of feudalism, “the beneficiary of which are the rich”, to those advocating an end to the “free ride” of the developing world on the innovations of the Rich. (After all, the bulk of the patents are owned by multinationals, who could scarcely make a dole of their R&D investments.)   Sudip Chaudhuri prefers to wade through a sequestered segment of the debate, rather than plunge into the turbulent mid stream of trade conundrums with ethical connotations. The professor of economics at the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta attempts a bird’s eye view of the implications of TRIPS on the drug industry in India in The WTO And India’s Pharmaceuticals Industry: Patent Protection, TRIPS, and Developing Countries. Even in that cloister of India-centric commentaries on TRIPS though, other efforts exist, like Rishi Gupta’s TRIPS compliance: Dealing with the Consequences of Drug Patents in India.The Thomson Gale publication of March 2004, was in reality a reprint of the author’s article in the Houston Journal of International Law. It touched on most of the sensitive aspects of the product patents regime, like ‘Will Drug Prices Actually Rise?’ and the compulsory licensing provisions that allow patented drugs to be available in markets in which the originators of patent are not present.   Chaudhuri’s edge over such treatises stems from the fact that his book hit the market less than five months after product patents were reinstated by an amendment in the Patents Act of 1970. The Patents Act 2005 came into effect in April and Professor Chaudhuri has managed to incorporate the new Act and its implications for the Indian pharmaceutical industry before his publishers could send the manuscript to press. The author journeys through the history of the pharmaceutical ...

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