the yanks sure know how to screw the actual ipr holders, while the usual lapdogs of the chinese bay at the moon.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
To: Rajeev Srinivasan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Our loss, US's gain
The Pioneer Edit Desk
Jan 7 06
While all attention is riveted on the furore over CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat's diabolical attempt to denigrate and discredit Ayurveda and Ayurvedic drugs which together are rapidly gaining popularity and posing a challenge to multinational drug companies, few would have noticed that an American firm has surreptitiously patented Jeevani, an Indian herbal formulation with regenerative properties.
The Kani tribe of Kerala had harnessed native knowledge and used indigenous plants to create this wonder diet supplement. Subsequently, Tropical Botanical Garden and Research Institute, in collaboration with the tribe, had developed Jeevani as a packaged product. That was nearly a decade ago. Although a local patent was procured, nobody bothered to take note of patent laws that have come into force in the post-WTO era.
The American firm, Good Earth Companies Inc, has made full use of this lapse and, after patenting the brand, released its own product labelled as 'Jeevani Jolt 1000' whose ingredients are the same as those in the original Indian formulation.
Technically, Good Earth has not violated any law. Given the smash-and-grab attitude of American enterprise, it would be silly to expect any US firm to be guided by ethics. If anybody is to blame, it is the sprawling bureaucracy of India which is too slothful to respond to the changing times. By the time a file makes its way from one desk to another in its inexorable journey through the hierarchy of India's babudom, someone somewhere would have outwitted those charged with - and paid by taxpayers - to protect India's interests.
We have seen this happening in the past with Neem, Haldi and Basmati being patented and our babudom waking up from their paid-for-slumber with a start only after reports appeared in the media. This time, too, we can expect our bureaucrats to feign ignorance and their political bosses to voice faux indignation.
There are other reasons, too, why we continue to lose out on indigenous medicines, often to foreign firms. To begin with, Indian systems of medicine are poorly documented. Modern medicine demands proof on the efficacy of a particular formulation, which is most often not documented in the case of traditional drugs. The Government's effort to overcome this obstacle through a partnership between CSIR, ICMR and Department of Ayush is welcome, but the pace is far too slow to merit any applause.
Moreover, the marketing of indigenous medicines is poor. A last point: Indigenous systems have not cultivated a culture of quality control as is understood in the context of modern, consumer-driven markets.
We need to introduce standardisation across industry. The State drug controller's establishment does not have the expertise to check Ayurvedic samples. The Government is at last talking about creating the post of an additional director-general in the proposed National Drug Authority and four AYUSH inspectors. But given the snail's pace at which Government works, and the pro-active campaign by MNCs to prevent the emergence of indigenous medicines as a challenger to their hegemony, adequately backed by the campaign of calumny launched by their stooges in the Left, we can only wait for all this to happen.