Centralization of the system of issuing ‘Certificate of Pharmaceutical Product’ (CoPP) by the DCGI is a welcome step.

The ‘Certificate of Pharmaceutical Product’(CoPP), which is valid for two years, is issued by the drug regulatory authorities to a particular pharmaceutical product. CoPP is accepted as a proof of international quality by Latin America, Africa, CIS and other developing countries.
Why is this decision?

The decision of the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) to centralize the issue of CoPP stems from a request to this effect made by the World Health Organization (WHO).

It has been reported that WHO in April, 2009 informed the Ministry of Health of the Government of India that the organization takes objection in using WHO logo in the CoPP by the Indian exporters of pharmaceutical products as the WHO formats and guidelines are allegedly not properly adhered to by various local issuing authorities of CoPP, in India. The DCGI indicated that WHO specifically requested India that such an important documentation procedure should be controlled at the central drug regulatory authority level and hence is this decision.

Why is the criticism?

By the states:

However, the state drug authorities have expressed their unhappiness and even challenged the power of the DCGI to effect such changes. They feel that there will be revenue loss to the states for this procedural amendment. In addition, they argue that as the manufacturing license to the exporters are issued by the state drug authorities, the CoPP also is to be issued by the same authority, which they feel is an age old practice and works quite well.

By the exporters:

So far as the exporters are concerned, they feel that with the existing inadequate infrastructure available with the Central Drugs Standard Control Organization (CDSCO), effective implementation of the new system is not possible. This change, they apprehend, would result in unusual delay in issuing the certificate.

The latest status:

On October 13, 2009, the Madras High Court issued a stay order on a petition filed by the Tamil Nadu Drug Inspectors Association, against the directive of centralization of CoPP by the DCGI.

On October 15, 2009 the same Madras High Court acting on a petition of the Federation of South Indian Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association issued an injunction, which will remain in force until further orders, staying the same order of the DCGI.

On October 20, 2009, Karnataka High Court issued yet another stay order, which will remain effective for a period of four weeks, suspending this new directive on CoPP.

This is the third stay order against the new centralized system of granting CoPP.


Many stakeholders genuinely feel that this change will help strengthening the regulatory framework of the country and improving confidence level on the high quality standard of generic drugs manufactured in India within the world trading community with a positive impact on pharmaceutical exports. This will also enable the DCGI to provide up-to-date details on CoPP to the international regulators, as and when required. In the previous system, the DCGI feels, it used to be quite challenging to quickly compile such data to respond to any national and international request for the same. In the new system there will be one uniform format and the details of all CoPP with their expiry date will be available in the CDSCO website for greater transparency.

The infrastructural issue including the manpower need of the CDSCO to handle this new initiative is being addressed with adequate speed. Overall, this is indeed a laudable move to ensure uniform high quality standard for the pharmaceutical products made in India. Ministry of Health of the Government of India should be complimented for this important initiative.

By Tapan Ray

Disclaimer: The views/opinions expressed in this article are entirely my own, written in my individual and personal capacity. I do not represent any other person or organization for this opinion.

Recent efforts to improve the functioning of the WIPO-administered Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) is a welcome step for the interest of India.

As the third largest user among developing countries of the PCT system, India has a particular interest in ensuring that the PCT system supports its innovators and exporters in the most efficient manner possible.
What does PCT system do?

The PCT system allows reliance on international searches and examination in assessing patentability but it does not preclude national examination including decisions on patentability at a national level. In that regard, the Director-General Francis Gurry of WIPO made the following remarks at the opening of the WIPO Assembly on September 22, which clearly states that PCT reform is not a norm setting exercise and is voluntary:

“…I would like to make specific mention of one project, which I believe to be of great significance, the so-called Road Map for the improvement of the functioning of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), which will come up for consideration in the PCT Assembly during this meeting. This is not a norm-making exercise. The PCT makes it very clear (Article 27(5)) that nothing in it is to be construed as in any way limiting the freedom of each Contracting State to determine its own substantive conditions of patentability. Neither the PCT nor the Road Map in any way affects TRIPs flexibilities. The Road Map is about improving the functioning of a procedural treaty that links together the patent offices of the world. It is about finding ways to increase work-sharing, to decrease unnecessary inefficiencies, to improve the quality of the output of the international patent system and, thereby, to contribute to the management of the unsustainable backlog of 4.2 million unprocessed patent applications in the world. There are many initiatives occurring already in this regard: the Patent Prosecution Highway and work-sharing initiatives in ASEAN, in South America and between the Vancouver Group of Canada, United Kingdom and Australia. The PCT Road Map aims to bring all these initiatives ultimately under the multilateral umbrella of the PCT“.

PCT is not a substantive treaty:

The PCT is not a substantive treaty and it will not become one. By mixing up the different work streams of WIPO–some of which are substantive and some of which, like the PCT, are technical and administrative, some vested interests seek to create confusion. It is difficult to understand why such people would want to defeat a project that will permit Indian high-tech companies to leverage India’s strong educational and legal infrastructure to compete effectively in the global economy of the twenty-first century.

PCT has important ramifications:

The proposed changes in the PCT have indeed important ramifications for countries like India, as they represent the greater opportunities that the PCT changes will provide Indian commercial interests through an improved international patent search and examination process.

In many technological sectors, including pharmaceuticals, Indian innovators are finding that, indeed, strong intellectual property protection both in India and abroad is critical to the success of their business models. As a result they are becoming users of the PCT system. Opposition to the current WIPO efforts to improve the PCT system, I reckon, would deny Indian innovators these opportunities.

Indian innovators have a stake in WIPO PCT reform:

Indian innovators also have an important stake in “WIPO PCT Reform”. It is, therefore, very much in the interest of the Government of India that such reform succeeds now that it has reached elite status in the international intellectual property regime.

Just last year, the Indian Patent Office (IPO) became one of only fifteen national patent offices to be recognized as an International Searching Authority (ISA) and International Preliminary Examining Authority (IPEA) by WIPO. As an ISA, the Indian Patent Office now approves or establishes the title and conducts international searches. Scepticism of a group of vested interests on this much desirable “WIPO PCT Reform” could set back the international recognition that India has deservedly gained from being the only English speaking country in the Asian region to be recognized as an ISA and IPEA.


I would, therefore, expect our Government to continue its support for efforts such as “WIPO PCT Reform” that seek to facilitate India’s further integration into the international economy while at the same time protecting Indian national interests.

By Tapan Ray

Disclaimer: The views/opinions expressed in this article are entirely my own, written in my individual and personal capacity. I do not represent any other person or organization for this opinion.