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`New patent norms will not impact drug prices'

Our Bureau

New Delhi , Jan. 5

ONLY 2,488 out of the total of 8,926 mailbox applications filed by companies for patents are request applications for examination while the remaining does not contain requests for examination.

Around 7,000 applications are in the pharmaceutical sector and the rest in areas of agro-chemicals, the Secretary in the Department of Industrial policy and Promotions (DIPP), Mr Ashok Jha, said here on Wednesday.

He said the new patent ordinance would not affect drug prices because the process of granting patent would take around two to four years and 3 per cent of the drugs would be patented and 97 per cent would remain outside its purview.

There are checks and balances and safeguards such as compulsory licensing to ensure that drugs are available at affordable prices, he said adding that Indian drug prices are the lowest in the world and studies show that drug prices have not gone up since TRIPS came into being in 1995.

Officials said the Rs 120-crore expansion and modernisation plan of the patent offices in the four metro cities was fast reaching completion. The offices in Delhi and Calcutta will be ready by March, the Madras office by April and the Mumbai office by June.

Also, for speedy processing of the applications, the number of examiners is being raised from 35 to 270, of which, 220 have already been appointed and others are in the pipeline.

Ever since TRIPS came into being, only 230 new molecules have been patented. Besides, patents are not for an indefinite period, said Mr Jha.

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