ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles By Sudip Chaudhuri

How Effective Are Government Measures to Control Prices of Anticancer Medicines in India?

The government imposed a ceiling of 30% trade margins on selected anticancer medicines to make these more affordable. While putting a cap on what manufacturers charge, which has been under price control under the Drug (Price Control) Order, 2013 and also earlier, the government has kept traders’ margins untouched. Prices of the same products sold by different manufacturers vary widely and the overall consumer gain has not been significant. The government has not adequately used the policy options available or tried to control the prices of patented medicines. Compulsory licensing has also practically remained unexplored. The high prices of biologic products are highlighted and the importance of simplification of the regulatory barriers to make the market more competitive and price-sensitive is emphasised.

 

The Larger Implications of the Novartis Glivec Judgment

The Supreme Court judgment on the Novartis-Glivec case is remarkable because it has gone beyond the specific technical and legal issues surrounding patents and has put the matter in a much larger political and economic perspective. The deeper implication of the judgment is that it is not only justified to deny patents when incremental innovation is trivial as in the Glivec case. The judgment has linked the entire question of patenting with net benefits to society and has highlighted the relevance of specific conditions of a country for deciding the appropriate patent regime. What the judgment says and what it implies has tremendous significance for the patent regimes in developing countries beyond the secondary patenting issues.

Multinationals and Monopolies

In January 2005, drug product patent protection was reintroduced in India to comply with the agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. How are the multinational pharmaceutical companies responding to the new policy environment? Is India likely to see monopolisation of the industry and high prices, which was the pattern before 1972 when India had product patent protection? Will the positive features of the post-1972 process patent era be diluted or negated? This study finds that the MNCS have started marketing new patented drugs in India at exorbitant prices particularly for life-threatening diseases such as cancer. The manufacturing and importing behaviour of the MNCS since the 1990s bear a close resemblance to that before the 1970s. Imports of high-priced finished formulations are expanding rapidly with manufacturing investments lagging far behind. The MNCS are also expanding vigorously in the generic segments and are trying to grow not only organically but through mergers & acquisitions and strategic alliance with Indian generic companies.

Ranbaxy Sell-out: Reversal of Fortunes

The Ranbaxy sale to Daiichi Sankyo could herald a new phase in the evolution of the Indain pharmaceutical industry. In order to cope in a world after the agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights came into force, some of the larger Indian firms pursued the two strategies of a greater internationalisation of sales of generic drugs and a focus on research and development as junior partners of global giants. Ranbaxy had mixed success with the two strategies. In recent years Ranbaxy found itself increasingly squeezed in both areas and was therefore left with little choice but to sell out. The issue once again then is to stretch the flexibilities in TRIPS and renegotiate the agreement - essential if the Indian industry is to remain healthy and prices kept under check.