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BW Businessworld

Pharma, By The Book

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Not many books on the Indian pharmaceutical industry are available from the perspective of independent industry observers. This book edited by Hans Lofgren, associate professor in politics and policy studies at Deakin University, Australia, provides  such a perspective.

It is a collection of in-depth essays on topics related to the Indian pharma industry written by experts in the field. The essays range from the systemic failure of regulation, TRIPS flexibilities and access to patented medicines to India’s FTAs (free trade agreements) and their  implications for access to medicines, among others. The book gives an insight into how the Indian pharma industry, accounting for just a fraction of the global drug sales, has evolved to become the pharmacy of the world through generic drug sales. It shows how companies like Cipla (there is a separate chapter on its chairman Y.K. Hamied) revolutionised HIV treatment worldwide with cheap generics and forced multinational companies to bring down the price of their patented drug products. The first part of the book discusses the evolution of the Indian industry from the pre-1972 product patent era to the product patent era from 2005 and its implications for the industry. A few chapters also discuss the challenges of regulating medicines in the country, especially the price of drugs, FTAs and possible challenges and systemic issues within the industry and in regulating the industry. The Indian patent law is an area of concern for many global drug firms and some of the articles discuss these related issues. An important observation about the book is that a majority of the articles are written by academicians and not those directly connected with the industry. The independent discussion of issues, which read more like a news analysis, often reflects the views of NGOs and are premised to establish the need for cheap drugs with a clear dislike of  MNC drug companies.

The depth of the articles and the issues under discussion make this book a must read for pharmaceutical industry professionals or those concerned with it. 

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 07-04-2014)