Compulsory Licensing: For COVID-19 Vaccines and Other Related Drugs

Compulsory Licensing

Compulsory Licensing: For COVID-19 Vaccines and Other Related Drugs

The importance of Intellectual Property Rights ('IPR') in the Pharmaceutical Industry has been affirmed and re-affirmed on numerous occasions to acknowledge that the growth and success of any Pharmaceutical Company is now dependent on the extent and kind of IP protection it entails. IPR is a fundamental necessity for Pharmaceutical Companies to recognize, disseminate and safeguard the invention. IPR is also an essential means to protect the time, effort, and money invested by such companies. Another important function of IPR is that it encourages healthy competition, thus promoting industrial as well as economic development. Incentives invest in research and development is also provided to Pharmaceutical Companies by IPR. With the massive increase in the number of cases of Coronavirus infection in India during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the question of accessibility to drugs and vaccines is being constantly raised. Indian states have been slammed with a shortage of vaccines and other important drugs such as Remdesivir and Tocilizumab. The Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech International Ltd are currently the two vaccine manufacturing companies in India; however, they are unable to meet the rising demands of the vaccine at par with the rising cases that the second wave of the Pandemic has brought upon the country. In this regard, the subject of “Compulsory Licensing” of such vaccines and important drugs used in hospitals for Covid-19 treatment has been brought to light to speed up the vaccination process along with treatment at an affordable and accessible rate. However, the concept of Compulsory Licensing is not as straightforward in the realm of the Pharmaceutical Industry as one might believe. This white paper seeks to first understand what Compulsory Licensing entails especially in the Pharmaceutical Industry and secondly, it seeks to examine the scope of Compulsory Licensing for Covid-19 vaccines in India and the advantages and challenges attached to it.

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