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The Harm Done by Patents

This article, published as a series on "Drug Prices and Patents" in the 3 April 1965 issue of The Economic Weekly, points out the reasons the stifling patrent regime encouraged by developed countries and the detrimental effects it has on the development of a low-cost, indigenous drug industry in India. 

Abstract of the Article: When he writes in his article, "one wonders how Librium could be legally imported into the country from an unauthorised source by a party other than the patentee,, (emphasis added), Arvind Nair not only gives, his whole case away but unwittingly draws attention to the real damage caused by the pernicious patents system. He is referring to the matter brought to light in the last session of the Lok Sabha and drawn attention to in an editorial in The Economic Weekly of January 16, 1965--that a Swiss firm which holds the patent for librium, a tranquilliser, was importing the drug into India at Rs 5,500 per kg, while an Italian firm was supplying it at Rs 300 per kg.

Arvind Nair is right when he says that the import of the drug into India by a firm and from a firm other than the patentee, regardless of the price differential, is illegal Thus he himself brings out the fact that the patent law in force in India at present gives protection both for the process and the product and drugs can be bought only from the patentees or their licensees and at prices fixed by them.

It is precisely the monopoly right thus conferred on the patentees and their licensees in India which is holding up the development of the drug industry and standing in the way of the supply of life-saving drugs to the public at low prices.

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