India Seeks Comments on Compulsory Licensing of Pharmaceuticals

Mike Palmedo
August 27, 2010

The Indian Department of Industry Policy and Promotion (DIPP) is seeking comments regarding the compulsory licensing of pharmaceuticals.  In a recently published discussion paper, DIPP describes a changing domestic market which is trending towards greater concentration of ownership and more ownership by multinationals.  As the industry changes, it is producing more medicines for export, yet domestic sales are declining and there remains a substantial need for greater access to medicines.

DIPP identifies compulsory licensing as a way to increase the domestic availability of medicines.  India’s Patents Act 1970 as amended in 2005 allows government officials to issue compulsory licenses if a patent is not being adequately worked (and is therefore not available to the public on reasonable terms); in situations of emergency; and as a way to address anticompetitive actions. 

To date, India has not issued a compulsory license for pharmaceuticals, though health advocates have sought compulsory licensees in the past. DIPP It seeks input on before September 30 on the best way to implement a policy of compulsory licensing for pharmaceuticals. 

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