WHO's there? Pharmaceutical branding in India


Lucy Rana and Pooja Thakur

Pharmaceutical companies in India are having to adapt to the World Health Organization’s International Nonproprietary Names programme, as Lucy Rana and Pooja Thakur explain.

Patents are portrayed and envisioned as the indispensable reward to compensate pharmaceutical firms for the large cost, risk and years of research that are put into drug discovery and development. However, this monopoly right comes with an expiration period. Brand loyalty towards a trademark of an off-patent drug can enable the manufacturer to enjoy indefinite benefits from a patent beyond its expiration.

However, brand loyalty and extensive marketing may lead to market monopolisation, a barrier that is very difficult for generic drug manufacturers to overcome. From a public health perspective this has numerous downsides.

For instance, it may lead to physicians prescribing brand-name drugs instead of generic substitutes. It can result not only in suppression of competition and reduction in consumer choice, but also in an increase in the price of drug to make up for the pharma company’s investment in aggressive brand promotion.

Pharmaceuticals, branding, WHO, INN, Drugs and Cosmetics Act, India Trade Marks Act