Compulsory for India?

Here are two articles talking about or in one case implying the necessity for the Indian government to follow the Thai path with regard to compulsory licensing. In the Hindustan Times Sanchita Sharma talks about the conclusions reached by activists discussing IPR. Her article traces a logical path from the need for cheaper life saving medications to an Indian aspiration for the Thai model.

The Thai government’s decision to issue compulsory licenses on essential drugs for HIV, heart diseases and cancer has given new hope to thousands of Thai citizens who could not otherwise have access to these drugs,” said Thailand’s Kannikar Kijtiwatchakul.

As the world’s largest supplier of generic drugs to the developing world, said activists, India should lead global efforts to make life-saving drugs cheaper at the Intergovernmental Working Group on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property to be held in Geneva next month.

At Livemint the article focusses on the flawed reasoning of those criticising the Indian government for the ‘potential’ misapplication of compulsory licensing provisions. Johannes van De Weerd and Leena Menghaney from MSF write:

A 4 February story in Mint had quoted the Swiss pharma company Novartis as saying that the move (compulsory licensing) was unjustified in the absence of an emergency for which compulsory licensing is designed. This is an incorrect reading of India’s patent law and certainly not a requirement of international trade agreements. The Indian Parliament, in the revised Patents Act, included progressive and comprehensive provisions authorizing generics production despite the fact that a patent has been issued on a particular drug.

The fact that the government has also shown an inclination towards using compulsory licensing provisions only during emergencies has been covered by Prashant earlier.

The article goes on to emphasise the need for the Indian goverment to look beyond the commercial and economic repercussions of compulsory licensing.

It is, therefore, evident that access to essential medicines for millions of people in India and abroad in the coming years will depend on the Indian government’s decisions. India through its legislation is in a unique position of global responsibility. It can make affordable generic medicines available to the world in the event that patent holders choose profits over patients.

India’s Patents Act allows it to implement a progressive compulsory licensing policy in full accordance with international trade rules.
Public interest groups, other developing countries and, most importantly, people across the world will applaud India’s decision to continue its long-standing tradition of placing patients before patents.


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