India- Brazil to strengthen cooperation in making drugs & medicines

Shri Anand Sharma, the Union Minister for Commerce, Industry and Textiles, led a delegation of officials, CEOs, FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) leaders and pharmaceutical companies, in Sao Paulo from 13-14 June 2012.

Shri Sharma participated in the pharmaceutical Round Table which covered a wide gamut of issues. Minister Sharma invited companies from Brazil to invest in India`s national infrastructure, manufacturing in Special Economic Zones and the food-processing sector.

India has plans for one trillion dollars investment in the infrastructure sector over the next five years to build roads, ports, airports and highways. In the pharma field, he explained Brazil and India could further strengthen their ongoing cooperation in making drugs and medicines available at affordable prices.

Commerce Minister stressed that the provision in TRIPs of invoking the route of compulsory licensing for making available cheaper drugs, though introduced at the behest of developing / under-developed countries, was in fact used more often by developed countries. As to India, in March this year, Hyderabad-based Natco Pharma was allowed, following the process of adjudication, and thus not an executive invocation, to manufacture and sell in public interest cancer-treatment drug Nexavar at a price over 30 times lower than charged by patent-holder Bayer Corporation, under compulsory licensing (CL).

During the discussions in the round table, Indian pharma companies raised the issues of requirement of multiple testing despite having approvals from regulatory agencies in developed countries, delays in registration of products in Brazil / issue of import licenses as also port clearances; insistence by Brazil in respect of new molecules on reference price in India (where costs are less) than a higher one (as would be necessary given high costs of factors of production in Brazil) etc. Brazilian side while pointing out that many of the problems being faced by Indian companies are also faced by Brazilian companies, referred to problems faced by their companies in India and agreed with the Indian side to constitute an industry level working group to identify hurdles in further strengthening of the pharmaceutical cooperation and relay concrete suggestions towards this end to the governmental channels.

Speaking at the gathering of Indian and Brazilian business and industry leaders and others, Shri Sharma highlighted the opportunities for bilateral cooperation in multiple areas including trade, investment, defence, technical cooperation, education, people to people exchanges, culture and tourism, etc.

Shri Sharma also welcomed the soft launch of the CEOs forum and the first meeting between the Indian and Brazilian Chairs of this Forum during the visit.

During his presence in Sao Paulo, Shri Sharma met with the leadership of FIESP / CIESP (Federation / Centre of Industry of the State of Sao Paulo) and addressed a pharmaceutical round table of Indian and Brazilian business/ industry representatives and officials. He also met members of Brazil-India Chamber of Commerce, where he interacted with Indian and Brazilian businessmen.

Earlier, Shri Sharma met the Foreign Minister of Brazil, Ambassador Antonio Patriota, in Rio de Janeiro on June 12. The Foreign Minister of Brazil hosted a private dinner for the Indian Minister and his delegation. During the meeting and the dinner, the two Ministers had discussions on the international economic situation, the Eurozone crisis and its impact on our countries, the need to consolidate South-South cooperation, and trade issues including the Doha Round.

The Ministers also noted with satisfaction the progress being made in the constitution of the CEOs Forum and in establishing a sectoral dialogue in areas such as infrastructure, IT and services, mining and agriculture.

There was also an extensive exchange on bilateral issues: the growing economic and commercial links between Brazil and India, our partnership in IBSA, BRICS and G-20, and the immense potential to take our relations to a higher level.

The Minister and the delegation also met the President of the National Development Bank, Dr. Luciano Coutinho. Issues relating to inter-bank cooperation between BNDES and EXIM Bank, the proposal of a BRICS Bank, agreement on trade in local currency among BRICS countries, and the role that BNDES can play in financing joint ventures between Brazil and India, were discussed.

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