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Panel seeks compulsory licensing for vaccine, drugs

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Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 23

A parliamentary committee has asked the government to shun its cautious stand during a health emergency like the present pandemic and liberally issue compulsory licences for the production of medicines and vaccines for the treatment of Covid.

India has invoked the provision of compulsory licensing only once in case of production of life-saving drug Nexavar. The government gives a “compulsory licence” to a third party to produce a patented product without the consent of the patent owner. This is usually done in extreme emergencies.

“Generic production in large quantities without any obligation of patents will help in removal of supply constraints in availability of affordable drugs and vaccines at times of high case load and death due to Covid,” noted the report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Friday.

The recommendation to the government comes at a time when India’s search for a legitimate avenue is stuck at the World Trade Organisation after eight months. India and South Africa have asked the WTO to relax the patents regime for Covid vaccines and drugs as a one-time measure.

“The government should delve into the prospect of temporarily wavering patent rights and issuing compulsory licensing to tackle the inadequacy in availability of Covid vaccines and drugs during an emergency-like situation,” recommended the report.

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