This case will thus be a landmark in striking a balance between the affordability of the expensive medicines by the poor masses in India and the investments made by the pharma companies. As per the Patents Act, Pfizer will have six months to reply to the notice of Natco. In the event of a likely rejection of the grant of license, Natco can approach the government for compulsory licensing to sell a affordable version of the drug after paying due royalties to Pfizer. As per the Indian law, the government can invoke the provisions relating to complusory licensing after three years of grant of the patent if the product patented is not affordable for public or if the company fails to launch the product after having obtained the patent.However, most innovator companies have been opposed to the idea of compulsory licensing.
Natco had tried to seek a similar license from Pfizer for its anti-cancer drug to be sold in Nepal in 2007 but was unsuccessful in obtaining the same. We have covered this issue on the blog which can be read here, here and here. The outcome of this notice to Pfizer will be instrumental in determining the fate of compulsory licensing in India which has been a fairly recent addition to the Patent Act.
PS-Image from here.