Earlier this year, Natco convinced the government in India to grant it a compulsory license to Bayer's Nexavar. Apparently, one is not enough. Natco seems to be planning to bolster its pipeline further by going after more compulsory licenses. But the company is remaining mum as to which companies' drugs it covets.
Has the lid been lifted to Pandora's box? I don't know but it sure looks like Natco is going to try to cash in but filing application after application to the India government to grant it licenses? Afterall, what does Natco really have to lose by doing so? This coudl be a good example of a policy gone wrong.
The US Patent and Trademark Office and the World Trade Organization have already come out against granting these licenses. Presumably, if the Indian government should issue more, than even more Western pressure will increase against these.
Many experts in India pooh-pooh the prosepects of compulsory licensing becoming a major factor. They point to the difficulty in making the case "that the multi-national drug maker failed to implement a strategy to make a life-saving medicine available to those who are unable to aford it." They also note that invalidating a patent would be cheaper than the compulsory license as no royalties would be owed. The latter point may be true, but how easy is it to win an invalidation of patent?
Seems like a slippery slope to me, if Western companies can't rely on patent protection for their products in India, I would expect them not to market those novel drugs in that country. That wouldn't be good for anyone -- drugmaker, government or patients.
Also, isn't it a bit offensive for a company like Natco to talk about potential additional comulsory licenses as "its pipeline". What did it do to invent anything to help the patients?
Posted by Bruce Lehr Jul 23rd 2012.