Responsible journalism needed!
In an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal today (September 26, 2013), entitled “India’s Attack on Innovation,” Mr. Rod Hunter, a Senior Vice President at the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers of America, made claims that are incredibly specious and self-serving arguments to bolster his thesis that the Indian government was attacking innovation.
First of all, the title is a gross generalization of the topic of his article which is about pharmaceutical patents. I agree that one should debate the Indian Government’s decisions regarding accepting pharmaceutical patents. However, the debate needs to be based on reasonable arguments and examined from all sides.
The Wall Street Journal should be embarrassed to publish an opinion peace that is vacuous in its arguments and pander to the public with gross over generalizations, even if this would serve Mr. Hunter’s goals.
Let’s examine Mr. Hunter’s arguments for why India should not be allowed to reject pharmaceutical patents granted elsewhere in the world, to get needed medicines at an affordable price to its citizens. The first argument made by Mr. Hunter has merit. He argues that the motives of the government are not altruistic but play to the demands of India’s domestic pharmaceutical players. However, his remaining arguments are about as ridiculous as any that I have heard. Mr. Hunter’s claim that India is not poor is ridiculous. India’s per capita income is less than US$3000/annum on even a PPP basis! That is less than 10% that of the US or for that matter the G7 average per capita income! Arguing that India has 150 million middle class consumers and should thus not worry about the cost of medication is equally ridiculous. It conveniently ignores the fact that India has a population of 1.2 billion and thus government policies cannot be directed at just 12.5% of the population. Government policy needs to encompass the majority. Finally, claiming that India is rich because Mumbai has a GDP greater than Hungary is an embarrassingly foolish argument! The per capita income in Mumbai remains less than In Hungary and the wealthy city of Mumbai comprises less than 2% of India’s population.
The Wall Street Journal should take a little care to ensure that they don’t publish opinion pieces that are inflammatory but don’t stand up to any intelligent scrutiny at all. This of course assumes that it aspires to journalistic standards higher than the National Enquirer!