NHRC takes serious view of India restraining production of cheaper versions of generic medicines, as reported in media; calls for reports from Union Ministries of Commerce and Health (01.4.2016)


New Delhi, 1st April, 2016

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC has taken serious view of media reports that India has given 'private reassurance' to US-India Business Council that its Patent Office will take a more restraint approach in handing out licenses to produce cheaper versions of drugs patented with the American firms, which, allegedly, will deny the people of the country access to generic medicines at affordable prices. Reportedly, at least two applications for compulsory licenses to produce, domestically, generic versions of drugs patented in America were rejected last year.

The Commission has called for reports within two weeks from the Union Ministries of Commerce & Industries as well as Health, through their Secretaries in the matter. It has observed that the contents of the press reports, if true, raise questions impinging upon right to health of citizens in India.

"If the Government, by invoking the provisions of the Indian Patents Act grants compulsory license to manufacture a particular drug, it would increase access to more affordable generic versions of the same bringing much needed solace to the thousands of the people. Providing an affordable healthcare system is a basic bounden duty of any Government. It is a matter of concern that two applications for grant of compulsory license to manufacture generic medicines for treatment of diabetes and cancer were rejected last year."

According to the media reports, carried on the 7th & 8th March, 2016, a compulsory license was granted to an Indian company, for the first time, to manufacture a drug to cure kidney and liver cancer, whose patent was with a U.S. company. The said drug was being sold by the Indian company for Rs.8,800/- as against Rs.2,80,000/- charged by the U.S. company. The challenge made against this did not succeed even though pursued up to the Supreme Court.