The US Should Follow India and Have a Process for Opening Key Medical Patents

Big Pharma is trying to justify charging multiple millions for each patient cured of certain diseases. This is not about having the money to pay for more medical research so that more cures can be created. The companies want to increase their stock prices and spending more on executive salaries. The R&D budgets tend to be less than their drug marketing and advertising budgets.

In 2013, the Indian Supreme Court denied a patent application for Gleevec, an important treatment for leukemia made by Novartis. This started years of legal and policy battles between global pharma companies and India.

India has granted compulsory licenses to other cancer drugs, including Bayer’s Nexavar, Roche’s Tarceva, and Pfizer’s Sutent. These licenses allow India generic drug manufacturers to make these drugs with impunity. The secretary of India’s Pharmaceuticals department indicated that the policy was needed to ensure that expensive drugs are available at affordable rates to the poor. India expanded the program beyond cancer drugs. Now if Big Pharma is planning to charge $2+ million for certain disease cures then even developed countries like the USA should follow India’s example to force open gene therapies and patents out of patent to get reasonable and safe competitive sourcing.

There will come a time if the Pharma and Medical Industry cannot find a way to charge reasonable prices and enable reasonable access for life-saving new cures then there will need to be limits on key medical patents in the public interest. There would also need to be a process for conversion of medical patents in the public interest into open source. The companies could get to declare some large tax loss from the forced forfeiture. This would enable them to get tax free profit from other less critical treatments.

SOURCES- Seeking Alpha (Derek Lowe), Bloomberg
Written by Brian Wang,

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