India’s Drug Problem
India is a world leader in generic drug manufacturing. Their previous policies for food and pharmaceutical patents paved the way for this. Since India’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in January of 1995 there has been an increasing push for reform of India’s patent laws. While there have been reforms made to the patent laws to comply with WTO regulations, they contain vague and somewhat easily exploitable language. It is without question that affordable generics medications produced in India are necessary throughout the world especially in places like India. This essay will examine a compromise for both sides of the situation so that medications can be received by those who need them the most.
India’s first patent law in 1911 was solely structured on process patents. This means that one could only patent the ways used to create the product not the product itself. India gained its independence in 1947, and immediately started reforming the Indian Patents Act. The Act was finally put into law in 1970. This law still only guaranteed process patents on food and pharmaceuticals; in essence this part of the law had not changed from the original 1911 law (Patents and the Law). The final iteration of the Patents Act debut in 2005, it contains a very important provision. Section 3d in essence describes what is patentable, and gives the right by the Patents Office to grant a compulsory license (CL) for the manufacture of necessary pharmaceuticals. P. H. Kurian granted the first of these CL’s on March 12, 2012 (p10 A big step forward). The article A Big Step Forward points out that all Natco, an Indian drug manufacturer, had to do was prove that it made the substance sorafenib using a different process than Bayer. This allowed Natco to sell the drug at a 97% decrease in price (p.12). Bayer’s profits are most certainly massively cannibalized by this competitor.
It is not only companies operating under...