by Ethan A. Huff
staff writer
June 27, 2012
from NaturalNews Website




The Chinese government has officially amended its patent laws to allow drug companies to reproduce generic, low-cost versions of expensive, patented drugs, a daring move that is sure to shake up the pharmaceutical industry.


According to Reuters Health, information posted at China's State Intellectual Property Office website explains that the Chinese government will now begin issuing compulsory licenses that bypass drug patents during times of state emergencies or other unusual circumstances, or when doing so benefits the interests of the public.

Patent laws are the keys to the kingdom, so to speak, for Big Pharma, as they ensure a steady stream of exorbitant profits from "blockbuster" drugs for many years.


In the U.S., these patents last 20 years from the time they are first filed, which results in drug companies being able to mark-up the cost of drugs as much as 569,000 percent higher than the cost of their actual raw materials (see "28 Senators vote to Maintain Big Pharma Monopoly over U.S. consumers; Republicans Oppose Free Trade for Medicine".)

These unreasonably high drug costs leave many patients in a serious financial bind, as the types of drugs administered for serious conditions like cancer can cost upwards of $100,000 or more per year. Many cancer patients who take the conventional treatment route, for instance, either end up having to shuffle treatment costs onto their insurance companies or taxpayers, or else agree to take on the burden of enormous debt.

This type of situation has become particularly problematic in China and several other countries in the East, where the average individual makes far less than the average individual living in the West.


So to address this problem, China has taken advantage of World Trade Organization (WTO) guidelines that allow member countries to essentially bypass patent laws in special circumstances.

"In May 2012, China created a change in their IPR (intellectual property rights) legislation to be able to issue compulsory licenses," said Bob Verbruggen, senior advisor for the UNAIDS Asia Pacific office, to Reuters.

Verbruggen participated in a recent drug access workshop hosted by the United Nations (UN) where Chinese officials explained the changes to their country's patent laws.

"China is considering further strengthening its legal framework, so as to make use of legal space to produce generic drugs. China's action plan at the workshop seemed to confirm that it intends to become a generic producer (of drugs) for the domestic and international market."


China plans to export generic versions of patented drugs

What this means is that China will have the opportunity to produce low-cost, generic versions of patented drugs, and export them to other countries, including to America.


Expensive drugs like the cancer drug tenofovir (Viread), for instance, could soon become available as a much-cheaper "copy" of the original.

Rafael Correa, President of Ecuador, made a similar move in his country back in 2009, although Ecuador has not necessarily become a major exporter of copycat drugs like China plans to do. President Correa declared medicine to be a "human right" that should never be patented, and decided to issue compulsory licenses to generic drug manufacturers.

"Open source" medicine is a concept we here at NaturalNews also embrace. And this does not mean that all medicine should be free - "free" just means that taxpayers are paying for it - but rather that medicines should be open and available for anyone to produce and sell without fear of infringing a patent.


Such a paradigm already largely exists in the dietary and herbal supplement industries, which create product formulas from individual plants, herbs, compounds, and other substances that are not patented or owned by any single corporation or entity.


Ecuador President Correa to Override Drug Patents in Order to...

Provide Affordable Medications
by Mike Adams

the Health Ranger

October 19, 2009
from NaturalNews Website

The President of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, announced Sunday that he planned to override a number of pharmaceutical patents in order to provide more affordable medicines to the People of Ecuador.


In a statement, Correa explained that access to medicine is a "human right" and that he intends to seek "compulsory licenses" to acquire medications considered indispensible.

Under current World Trade Organization rules, countries have the right to seek such "compulsory licenses" that override traditional patent rights. Current WTO rules require that such countries negotiate with the patent owners to determine fair compensation.

This action by Correa joins Ecuador's recent declaration that it would not honor the illegitimate debt that had been placed on the country by foreign banks (under previous administrations).


This bold move allowed Ecuador to renegotiate its debt for roughly 30 cents on the dollar. Much of that debt was considered "predatory debt" by academics who understand the way the World Bank and other first-world banking interests attempt to place debt burdens on many smaller nations as a tactic for exerting long-term influence over their economies.

The book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins explains in great detail how first-world nations have routinely interfered with the nations of Central and South American through predatory lending practices.

Pharmaceutical pricing is also considered "predatory" by many observers, including NaturalNews.


By definition, prices on brand-name pharmaceuticals are "monopoly prices." That's because patent protection grants drug companies a monopoly market for a period of roughly 20 years.


During that time, drug companies extract as much money as possible for their products, even from poorer nations whose population can barely afford to pay such prices.



Opinion from Mike Adams, current resident of Ecuador

As a full-time resident of Ecuador and a person who sees the day-to-day medical needs of the population in the southern region of Ecuador, I applaud Correa's bold action to bypass the predatory patent practices of pharmaceutical companies.


I agree with Correa that access to medicine, as well as access to an education, are basic human rights.

I've long stated on this website that medicine should not be pursued for profit. The entire business of medicine, in my opinion, would better serve the People if it were structured as a non-profit industry, and medicines in particular should be made available to people at or near their actual cost of production rather than a profiteering prices.

Many price markups on pharmaceuticals are astronomical. Some pills that cost literally two cents to manufacture are sold for over $100 each in the United States. That equates to a price markup of 500,000%.


Of course, drug companies have marketing and research costs to cover in this equation, but even then, the primary focus of the industry is to generate profit, not to generate health.

While some argue that drug companies need to earn huge profits to continue finding "cures" for serious diseases, in reality drug companies are far more focused now on inventing disease than actually curing anything.


Vaccines, psychiatric medications, cholesterol drugs and many other categories of medicines are now being aggressively pushed onto people who frankly don't need them (and who receive little or no medical benefit from them). Today, the pharmaceutical industry is increasingly focused on selling drugs to people who aren't even sick.

This is the core problem with the for-profit drug industry: As long as profits can be made by selling drugs, these companies will always try to find new ways to market more drugs to more people at higher prices.


Medical necessity is replaced by a profit motive, and the end result is that drug prices become entirely unaffordable to all but the wealthiest nations in the world. Even then, countries like the USA are going broke in large part due to their out-of-control expenditures of patented pharmaceuticals.

For any nation to protect itself from the predatory pricing practices (and disease mongering tendencies) of the pharmaceutical industry, it must do exactly what Ecuador's president Correa is now attempting to do:

Stand up against the predatory pricing practices of drug companies and take bold action to protect the interests of the people against these profit-seeking corporations.

As an American living in Ecuador, I applaud Correa's actions and hope that he finds success in pursuing this course of action for the benefit of the People.

It's also worth noting, by the way, that if the People of Ecuador would eat more traditional Ecuadorian diets and reject the influence of American processed foods and fast foods, they would suffer from far lower rates of cancer, diabetes, obesity and heart disease.


The American population is sick in large part because it has followed the so-called "Standard American Diet."


Any nation that embraces a similar diet will, within one generation, find itself experiencing similar rates of degenerative disease.


China Changes Patent Law in...

Fight for Cheaper Drugs
by Tan Ee Lyn
from Hong Kong
June 8, 2012

from Reuters Website

China has overhauled parts of its intellectual property laws to allow its drug makers to make cheap copies of medicines still under patent protection in an initiative likely to unnerve foreign pharmaceutical companies.

The Chinese move, outlined in documents posted on its patent law office website, comes within months of a similar move by India to effectively end the monopoly on an expensive cancer drug made by Bayer AG by issuing its first so-called "compulsory license".

The action by China will ring alarm bells in Big Pharma, since the country is a vital growth market at a time when sales in Western countries are flagging.

The amended Chinese patent law allows Beijing to issue compulsory licenses to eligible companies to produce generic versions of patented drugs during state emergencies, or unusual circumstances, or in the interests of the public.

For "reasons of public health", eligible drug makers can also ask to export these medicines to other countries, including members of the World Trade Organization.

Compulsory licenses are available to nations to issue under WTO rules in certain cases where life-saving treatments are unaffordable.

"The revised version of Measures for the Compulsory Licensing for Patent Implementation came into effect from May 1, 2012," China's State Intellectual Property Office said in a faxed statement to Reuters.

The changes can be found on the website of China's State Intellectual Property Office.

China is known to be looking at Gilead Sciences Inc's tenofovir, which is recommended by the World Health Organization as part of a first-line cocktail treatment for AIDS patients, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.

China's generic drug makers were getting ready to produce tenofovir, they added. At a drug access workshop hosted by the United Nations and health activists in Bangkok in early June, Chinese officials spoke of the changes to its patent law.


Officials from,

  • Cambodia

  • India

  • Indonesia

  • Malaysia

  • Myanmar

  • the Philippines

  • Thailand

  • Vietnam,

...also participated in the meeting.

"In May 2012, China created a change in their IPR (intellectual property rights) legislation to be able to issue compulsory licenses. China is considering further strengthening its legal framework, so as to make use of legal space to produce generic drugs," said Bob Verbruggen, senior adviser for the UNAIDS Asia Pacific office, who was present at the workshop.


"China's action plan at the workshop seemed to confirm that it intends to become a generic producer for the domestic and international market," he told Reuters by telephone.



China's move follows India's granting of a compulsory license in March to local generic drugs firm Natco Pharma to manufacture Bayer's cancer drug Nexavar, used for treating kidney and liver cancer.

However, China had signaled interest in the idea from at least 2008-2009, when its State Intellectual Property Office invited foreign experts to Beijing to show Chinese officials how to prepare the legal grounds for issuing compulsory licenses.

"They wanted to know the legal perspective... They wanted to know about Thailand's IP Act that allowed us to make a CL (compulsory license) under the law for public interests, in an emergency," said Vithaya Kulsomboon, associate professor at Thailand's Chulalongkorn University, who was invited to Beijing at the time.

Kajal Bhardwaj, a legal expert from India who is working on health, HIV and human rights trade laws, said China's move was well within the limits of international trade agreements.

"CLs have previously been issued in the region by Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and India. CLs have also been issued on multiple occasions by developed countries including the U.S. and EU member countries," Bhardwaj said.

"It is very encouraging that China is seeking to ensure that this right... is reflected in its legal regime on intellectual property," she added.




China's stable of generic drug makers has been producing the key ingredients - or active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) - in medicines for years, exporting them to foreign drug makers, which then sell the patented finished products back to China at prices which the average Chinese citizen often cannot afford.

In particular, the government is struggling to provide newer HIV drugs, such as Gilead's tenofovir, known by its brand Viread and which had worldwide sales last year of $737.9 million.

China's government, initially slow to acknowledge the problem of HIV/AIDS in the 1990s, now admits to having a ballooning number of HIV/AIDS cases.

Although Gilead moved to share its intellectual property rights on its medicines in a patent pool with generic drug makers from many countries last July in return for a small royalty, China was excluded, which meant it had to continue paying high prices for tenofovir.

Since the change in China's patent law, Gilead has offered certain concessions, including giving China a substantial donation of tenofovir if it continues to buy the same amount, said Paul Cawthorne, coordinator for Medecins Sans Frontieres' Access Campaign in Asia.

"This is all a negotiation game; this offer from Gilead came about once the news that the Chinese was considering issuing a CL came out. The end game is okay, you get a better deal or you use the CL, it's a strategy that many countries use," he said.

Gilead in Hong Kong declined to comment. No one was immediately available to comment at its head office in California.

All eyes are now trained on how China battles it out with big foreign drug exporters, especially from 2013 when the Geneva-based Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria will no longer give grants to China to 'fight' HIV.