Thursday, January 20, 2005

Indian compliance with WTO patent regime

Even though India was meant to comply with the WTO's patent regime by 1 January, 2005, this decision in Madras compelled patent holders of certain cancer drugs (sorry, don't know much about the facts) to continue to supply that drug to patients who had been receiving it prior to the January deadline. Although this is probably not in direct defiance of TRIPs rules, it nevertheless is a hopeful sign that provisions of TRIPs which allow this kind of activity may be upheld more often.

This must be a step forward for access to life saving medicines in developing countries. Although I haven't seen the decision, the article sounds like it was made on the basis of 'public interest', which sounds like compulsory licensing under TRIPs. Usually when this is attempted, drug companies react with all their might and refuse to supply patented drugs.

Maybe this Indian court has told the drug companies to stuff off. Maybe they have said enough is enough, and that saving lives of people too poor to pay for these drugs is more important than the profitability of drug companies operating in India. Wishful thinking??


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