The government today asserted India would invoke the flexibility it had under the WTO agreement on Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs) for compulsory licensing of patented drugs to ensure availability of life saving drugs at affordable prices to its people.
The Controller General of Patents,Designs and Trademarks had on Monday allowed Hyderabad-headquartered Natco Pharma to manufacture a generic version of Nexawar or Sorafenib,a cancer drug patented by Bayer in 2008.
Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma,under whose administrative purview the controller functions,told The Indian Express,India had not invoked it so far. This is the first time. But Brazil did it in 2007 for an antiretroviral drug patented by Merck.
India would resort to compulsory licensing of patented drugs if it is absolutely necessary for the public good,he added.
Bayer prices the drug at Rs 2.8 lakh for a months dose (120 tablets) in India. The controllers order allows Natco to sell a generic version at a fraction of the cost Rs 8,800 a month.
The new controller general of patents,Chaitanya Prasad,who took charge today,said his predecessor P H Kurian took the decision for the larger public good. Asked if the order would prompt other companies to apply for compulsory delicensing,he said,Its possible that some may come. We will have to wait and see. Therere no indications as of now.