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1. Secondary Patents

About secondary patents

  • Patents offer their owners market exclusivity for a limited period of time. For medicines, this exclusivity should last as long as the primary patent — which relates to the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) of the medicine — is in effect, typically 20 years.  The end of patent exclusivity is referred to as a patent cliff, because drug prices fall steeply afterwards — by as much as 80% — owing to generic competition  But the threat of this precipitous fall in profits drives pharmaceutical companies to find new ways to postpone their exclusivity by filing secondary patents for derivatives and variants of the API, such as a physical variant of the API, a new formulation, a dosage regimen, or a new method of administering the medicine.  The secondary patents prop up before the expiry of a primary patent thereby stretching the exclusivity beyond, a practice that is called “evergreening”. This strategy is most lucrative when employed in the context of so-called blockbuster medicines, which reap annual revenues exceeding $1 billion.

1.1 Innovations in Indian patent law to stop secondary patents  

Section 2(1)(ja) of the Patents Act,

  • the product in question must feature a technical advance over what came before that’s not obvious to a skilled person. Because secondary patents for pharmaceuticals are often sought for trivial variants, they typically fail to qualify as an invention.  

  • Section 3(d): when a medicine is merely a variant of a known substance, Section 3(d) necessitates a demonstration of improvement in its therapeutic efficacy. The provision also bars patents for new uses and new properties of known substances.  

  • Section 3(e) ensures that patents for combinations of known substances are allowed only if there is synergistic effect.  

  • Section 3(i) ensures that no exclusivity can be claimed over methods of treatment.  These provisions also extend to biologics, the new big players in the therapeutics marketplace.Biologics due to their complex structure offers more opportunity in secondary patenting for extending patent terms. Together, Sections 3(d), 3(e) and 3(i) have been instrumental in rejecting close to 1,000 secondary patents for pharmaceuticals according to a study.

  • Initiatives in India CBSE has launched a scheme “Udaan” to provide free online resources to girl students of Class XI and Class XII for preparation of admission test for the premier engineering colleges in the country.  Scheme to provide assistance for Advancement of Girls participation in Technical Education launched by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) envisages to grant 4000 scholarships per annum.

1.2 Salient features of the recommendations of the Katoch committee: 

  • Establishment of Large Manufacturing Zones (LMZs)/ Mega Parks for APIs.  Mega Parks need to be provided with common facilities such common Effluent Treatment Plants (ETPs), Testing facilities, Assured power supply, Common Utilities/Services such as storage, testing laboratories, IPR management etc.  Large manufacturing zones could be set up in National Manufacturing Investment Zones/ petroleum, Chemicals and Petrochemical Investment Regions (PCPIRs) in states that have the requisite facilities/system in place.

  • The bulk drug industry is one of the major polluting industries so it is necessary to have proper rules and regulations to check on the pollution level and the quality of output.  There is an urgent need to start few large API intermediate clusters to transform the nation as one such cluster can bring around one billion dollar per year.  Single window clearance and fiscal and Financial incentives such as tax breaks, soft loans etc. should be made available.

2. supercritical co2-brayton cycle news hightlight

  • Indian scientists have developed a super critical carbon dioxide Brayton test loop facility that would help generate clean energy from future power plants.

 

Key facts

  • The laboratory scale test loop was developed by a research group at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Energy Research, IISc, as part of the Indo-U.S. consortium called Solar Energy Research Institute for India and the United States, Funded by the Department of Science and Technology.

  • This is India’s first test-bed for next generation, efficient, compact, waterless super critical carbon dioxide Brayton cycle test loop for power generation.  The term “supercritical” describes the state of carbon dioxide above its critical temperature of 31°C and critical pressure of 73 atmospheres making it twice as dense as steam.

Significance  

  • Today’s thermal power plants use steam to carry heat away from the source and turn a turbine to generate power. However, it could generate more power if, instead of steam, supercritical CO2 (SCO2) is used.  The new generation high efficiency power plants with closed cycle CO2 as the working fluid have the potential to replace steam based nuclear and thermal power plants, thus reducing the carbon foot print significantly.

3. Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients

Background  

  • Bulk drugs or APIs are the active raw materials used in a drug that give it the therapeutic effect.  India’s API imports from top five countries stood at Rs 18,372 crore in 2016-17 with China accounting for 66%.  V.M. Katoch committee was formed to formulate a long-term policy and strategy for promoting domestic manufacture of APIs/bulk drugs in India.

  • Challenges to API Industry  Low profitability in API business is one of the major reasons for Indian companies to shift their focus to formulation industry.  

  • Monetary Policy: High Interest rates in country at 12% in compare to China where, the interest rate on loan is 5%  Stepmotherly Treatment by the Government: Finished drugs industry are provided with tax-free zones and other concessions while API manufacturers are exposed to Inverted duty structure Brayton cycle - A thermodynamic cycle using constant pressure, heat addition and rejection to spin the blades of a turbine, which can be used to generate electricity.  

  • Other Schemes to promote research  INSPIRE- It is to attract talents and motivate them for studying science from an early age and pursuing career in research and help to build the required critical human resource pool for strengthening and expanding the S & T and R & D base in the country. 

  • Research Promotion Scheme- It promotes research in identified thrust areas  E-Shodh Sindhu- It aims to provide e-resources on technical education to 94 AICTE supported technical institutes. 

  • Grant for Organising Conference- It provides Financial Assistance to institutions for organizing Conference at National & International level in various fields of Technical Education.

  • Science & Engineering Research Board  It is a statutory body established through an Act of Parliament.  Supporting basic research in emerging areas of Science & Engineering are the primary mandate of the Board.  The Board is vested with both financial and administrative powers to enable quicker decisions on research issues, greatly improving thereby our responsiveness to the genuine needs of the research scientists and the S&T system.

About the Scheme  

  • It is a public-private partnership (PPP) between Science & Engineering Research Board (SERB), which is an autonomous body under the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).  It aims to improve the quality of research by attracting the best talents across the country and reduce brain drain.  

  • Under the scheme around 1000 students who have completed B.Tech or integrated M.Tech or M.sc in Science and technology streams will be offered direct admission in PhD programme in the IITs/IISc with a fixed amount of fellowship.  Apart from this, a research grant of Rs.2 lakhs will be provided to each of the Fellows for a period of 5 years to enable them to participate in international research conferences and present research papers.

4. Digital Therapeutics Or Digiceuticals

More about Digital therapeutics

  • It can broadly be defined as a treatment or therapy that utilizes digital and often Internet-based health technologies to spur changes in patient behavior to treat a medical or psychological condition. It uses methods rooted in cognitive behavioral therapy to spur patients to make lifestyle changes.  It is often used as a preventive measure for patients who are at risk of developing more serious conditions. For instance, a patient with prediabetes may be prescribed digital therapeutics as a method to change their diet and behavior.  It can also be used to treat patients with psychological and neurological disorders. For example, those with Alzheimer's disease or dementia can also receive cognitive behavioral therapy along with reminiscence therapy as a method for reducing confusion and anxiety.

5. Village Resource Centres

What is Village Resource Centres (VRC)?

  • This is one of the unique initiatives that use Satellite Communication (SATCOM) network and Earth Observation (EO) satellite data to reach out to the villages to address the needs of the local people in villages itself.

  • Applications: VRCs provide wide varieties of services in rural areas:

  • Tele-medicine concept connects the sick people in villages, through VSAT network, to the doctors, who located in cities/urban areas or the Super-speciality hospitals, for providing health services.  

  • The Tele-education uses SATCOM to provide a virtual classroom facility to far-flung villages or remote areas in the country and helps in imparting education to the needy.    

  • Advisories related to agriculture like crop pest and diseases, fertilizer/pesticides, organic farming, crop insurance etc.; live stock/poultry, career guidance to rural students,  Skill development and vocational training etc., to the rural population. Other areas of application include Panchayat planning, Weather information, Marketing information, Watershed Development, Drinking water etc.

 

Why important?  

  • Use of VRCs demonstrates the peaceful use of satellite technology for development of rural areas.  Over 6500 programmes have been conducted by the VRCs so far addressing the areas like, Agriculture/horticulture development; Fisheries development; Live stock development; Water resources; Tele health care; Awareness programmes; Woman’s empowerment; Supplementary education; Computer literacy; Micro credit; Micro finance; Skill development / vocational training for livelihood support etc.

 

Way forward

  • There is need to upscale the VRCs and link all the village Panchayats. This will help in efficient use of available resources at the villages and also reduce distress migration from villages due to lack of basic health, education and information asymmetry.

6. International Intellectual Property Index 2018

About the Index  

  • It is an annual Index which examines a country’s Intellectual Property (IP) framework across eight categories of indicators – patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets and market access, enforcement, commercialisation of IP assets, systemic efficiencies and ratification of international treaties.

  • Major Findings of the IIPI 2018  According to the report USA topped the list with 37.98 points with UK right behind at 37.97 and Sweden at 37.03 points.

  • It has been noted in the IIPR index 2018, economies which implement moderate improvement in the IP environment see positive economic and societal outcomes ranging from access to financing and foreign direct investment to higher levels of economic value generation.

International Intellectual Property Rights Index on India

  • India has been ranked 44 out of 50 countries up from 43 out of 45 in 5th edition.  India’s score has improved from 25% (8.75 out of 35) of total score in 5th edition to 30% (12.03 out of 40) in the sixth edition which is the highest improvement of any country measured.

7. India’s First Ever Highway Capacity Manual (Indo-Hcm)

More about the news  

  • Indo-HCM project was approved in 2012 and has been developed by CSIR-CRRI on the basis of an extensive, country-wide study of the traffic characteristics on different categories of roads.  

  • The manual lays down guidelines for capacity augmentation and management of different types of roads and their intersections and the level of services to be put in place.  

  • The manual will guide Road Engineers and Policy Makers in the scientific planning and expansion of road infrastructure in the country and help supplement the efforts such as Bharatmala programme and also help in reducing road accidents by promoting safer road designs.  

  • It has also underscored the need to popularise the use of new material like fly-ash, plastic, oil slag and municipal waste in road construction.

8. Switzerland Tops Financial Secrecy Index

About the Index  

  • The Financial Secrecy Index is a ranking of countries which ranks them on their secrecy score and scale of their offshore financial activities.  The index is based on twenty secrecy indicators which can be grouped into four broad dimensions –

  • Ownership registration – includes banking secrecy, trusts and foundations register etc.

  • Legal entity transparency – includes public company ownership, public company accounts etc.

  • Integrity of tax and financial regulation – includes tax administration, consistent personal income tax etc.

  • International standards and cooperation – Anti-money Laundering, bilateral treaties etc. Findings of FSI 2018  According to the latest index Switzerland has topped the list, followed by USA and Cayman Islands, Hong Kong and Singapore.  India had scored a low score of 52 and is ranked 32. It’s ranking and score is important for countries where India invests.

9. NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION RETAINS STATUS

More from news

  • The accreditation confers international recognition and protection on National Human Rights Institutions and also grants participation in work and decision-making of GANHRI as well as the work of Human Rights Council and other UN mechanisms. 88 

 

National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRCI) 

  • It is a statutory body which was established in 1993 under the Protection of Human rights Act, 1993 which was amended in 2006.  It is the watchdog of human rights guaranteed by the Constitution or embodied in international covenants and enforceable by courts in India.  It is a multi-member body which comprise of a chairman (should be a retired chief justice of India) and four other members (who can be serving or retired judge of Supreme Court, high court and two persons having knowledge or practical experience w.r.t. human rights. Paris Principles They were adopted in 1993 by United Nations General Assembly which provides the international benchmarks for accreditation of NHRIs by GANHRIs. According to Paris Principles NHRIs need to:  Protect the human rights, including receiving, investigating and resolving complaints, mediating conflicts and monitoring activities  Promote human rights through education, outreach, training, capacity building etc.  NHRIs are accredited if they are found fully compliant with the UN mandated Paris Principles after a review process by GANHRI through sub-committee on Accreditation every five years.  India was awarded ‘Status A’ accreditation in 1999 for the first time which it retained in 2006 and 2011.  In 2017 the accreditation of NHRC of India was deferred till November 2017 which barred it from representing India in the UN’s Human Rights Commission stating reasons such as – inadequate representation of women in NHRC, the selection of retired CJI as the chairman restricts the potential pool of candidates etc.

 

Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institution (GANHRI)  

  • Formerly known as International Coordinating Committee (ICC) of National Human Rights Institutions, it was established in 1993.  The main function of GANHRI are –

  • Facilitating and supporting engagement of NHRIs with United Nations Rights Councils and Treaty and Treaty bodies.

  • Undertakes accreditation of NHRIs in accordance with Paris Principles and promotes role of NHRIs within UN, with States and other international agencies.

  • Encourages cooperation and information sharing among NHRIs.

  • Helps in capacity building in collaboration with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCR).  Levels of Accreditations of GANHRIs are:

  • “A” Voting members – They comply fully with Paris Principle and can participate as voting member in international and regional work and meetings of national institutions.

  • “B” Observer member: They do not comply with the Paris Principles and hasn’t submitted the required documents

  • “C” Non-member: They do not comply with Paris Principles and have no rights or privileges with ICC.

10. Rule Of Law Index

About the Index  

  • It ranks 113 countries on 44 indicators. Scores are accorded ranging from 0 to 1, with 1 indicating strong adherence to rule of law.  It measures countries’ rule of law performance across eight factors: Constraints on Government Powers, Absence of Corruption, Open Government, Fundamental Rights, Order and Security, Regulatory Enforcement, Civil Justice, and Criminal Justice.  Denmark topped the Index this year followed by Norway, Finland, Sweden and Netherlands

Febrauary Science and Technology

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