Kaushik Sunder Rajan (University of Chicago)
Property, Rights, and the Constitution of Contemporary Indian Biomedicine: Notes from the Gleevec Case
In this paper, I am interested in tracing how patent regimes drive the re-institutionalization of pharmaceutical development in India today in unsettled and contested ways. Patents are perceived to be a double edged sword - on the one hand, they supposedly provide incentives to innovate by providing inventors with limited monopolies on their inventions; but on the other hand, it is precisely this monopoly that potentially occludes technology transfer, and certainly makes innovative medicines less accessible to those who need it. I wish to trace this in the context of the emergence and interpretation of particular patent regimes. I draw upon an exemplary case surrounding a patent on the anti-cancer drug Gleevec. I am interested in how this case resolves, in an apparent purification, into technical and constitutional components; how the technical components are entirely unsettled; and how the constitutional components open up questions regarding the relationship between biocapital and issues of constitutionalism, rights, and corporate social responsibility. In other words, I am interested in the terrain of the political that gets constituted around questions of innovation, technology transfer and therapeutic access.