The Supreme Court on Friday requested the Centre why it did not consider granting compulsory licences to more pharma companies for the manufacture of medication to sort out the emergency that has arisen due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
During the suo moto listening to on Covid disaster, a Special Bench comprising Justice DY Chandrachud, LN Rao and SR Bhat requested Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that “has the Centre considered to invoking Section 92 of Patents Act and issue compulsory licences so that drugs can be manufactured while royalty is sorted or HC may decide so. If the government and patentee is not able to reach a decision on patent price, the HC can decide?”
“This is a public health emergency. You have no less that 10 PSUs that can take over and start manufacturing. This is a national emergency. Drug Control Order empowers you,” the apex courtroom stated, including that it was involved solely concerning the well being of the folks and “it is not to pass a value judgment.”
The SC will cross a slew of interim instructions on Saturday which can govern the scenario for the subsequent 10 days. “We will formulate a proper order. It is about important policy changes that Centre needs to consider,” the Bench stated, whereas posting the matter for additional listening to on May 10.
Compulsory licences could be granted with sundown clause which reveals that such licences will likely be over as soon as the pandemic is over, it stated. “Doha Declaration of TRIPS show that member states can take such steps to protect right of public health. Why should the court not issue directions under Section 100 and Section 92 to enable generics to manufacture these drugs without the fear of legal action? Is the logistical concern more important than right to health?” the judges requested.
The Bench additionally stated that that below the prevailing authorized regime, India can bypass the patent guidelines for remdesivir by importing the drug from Bangladesh and may also take a licence from the neighbouring producer to produce remdesivir in India.
It additionally questioned the Central authorities over the pricing of vaccines. “Why is the government not buying 100% of doses produced in this time? Why should there be two prices for the Centre and the states… what is the rationale?… The same companies are selling at lower prices to foreign nations. Pricing issue is extraordinarily important.”
AstraZeneca is offering vaccines at far cheaper price to the US residents then why ought to we be paying a lot?, Justice Bhat stated.
It additionally requested Mehta if the Government of India had made any advances to Serum Institute of India (SII) and Bharat Biotech (BB) which produce two Covid vaccines Covishield and Covaxin, respectively. “We know what is the capacity of SII and BB? You need to ramp up the manufacturing and need additional units for manufacturing,” the judges stated.
According to the highest courtroom, the federal government should observe the “national immunisation model which we had followed since independence.” “Why cannot follow the national immunization program policy and procurement is centralised but distribution be decentralised. Pricing issue is extraordinarily serious. How will poor people find money to get vaccinated? We can’t have this private sector model in a crisis like this,” Justice Chandrachud instructed Mehta.