Monday, May 16, 2011

Snippets: More Compulsory Licenses in the Offing?

According to news reports, Indian drug manufacturers may be open to actively seeking compulsory licenses for drug patents, particularly after the Central government seems to have voiced concerns over the fact that the mechanism hasn’t been employed as frequently as it ought to have been (only two entities NATCO and Cipla have filed applications for CLs actively).

Apparently, the Central government will consider applications for compulsory licenses on a “case-by-case basis”...does it have a choice? The Patents Act, 1970 clearly lays down the factors and facts that need to be considered in every application for a compulsory license, so it isn’t for the govt to choose if it wishes to decide every application for the license on a case-to-case basis; it is bound to do so by the Act.

Indian drug companies want the applications to be decided within a specified time frame so that there is some meaning left in pursuing these licenses.

As for MNCs, here's their reaction according to the Business Line:

At the multinational end of the spectrum though, the Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India's President, Mr Ranjit Shahani, points out, that not having additional guidelines is positive. However, the Government was sending out “mixed signals” to the global pharmaceutical industry, through reports that it seeks to restrict automatic approval for FDI (foreign direct investment) in the pharmaceutical sector only to greenfield projects.
“What is needed is a ‘complete ecosystem ' which encourages investments by the innovative pharmaceutical industry. If industry is to strategically plan, then the way forward cannot be built on an uncertain foundation,” he added”
Let’s see how this pans out, because compulsory licenses bring in questions of working and pricing, which go to the root of the pharma patent debate in India.

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