Compulsory License for Patented Cancer Drug in India

Last week we posted a case that will go before the Supreme Court in India where a patent was not issued to a major pharmaceutical company for a cancer drug, due to a controversial interpretation of the law that is designed to prevent companies from receiving new patents by making minor changes to existing drugs.  This week, there is an announcement that Controller of Patents has issued a compulsory license to a generic drug manufacturer, where a patent had been issued to a major pharmaceutical company for a different cancer drug.  The license does require royalties paid to the pharmaceutical company, but the rate was assigned by the Controller of Patents to address the fact that the pharmaceutical company had not made the drug available at a price that made it accessible.

Whenever conferred upon a patentee, the right also carries accompanying obligations towards the public at large. These rights and obligations, if religiously enjoyed and discharged, will balance out each other. A slight imbalance may fetch highly undesirable results. It is this fine balance of rights and obligations that is in question in this case.

While the license is currently exclusive to domestic production, there is concern that if the precedent may cause challenges for defense of intellectual property rights in general.

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