Srinagar, May 10: Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Monday urged the Union government to grant compulsory license for Covid-19 vaccines and drugs.
“That would make vaccines and life-saving Covid medicines accessible to people and save lives,” said DAK President and influenza expert Dr Nisar ul Hassan in a statement said.
“Compulsory licensing is a provision under the patent act that enables a government to allow other pharma companies to produce the patented drugs in times of public health emergency,” he said.
“A pharma company that develops a drug gets patent protection that prohibits other manufacturers from producing the drug for a period of 20 years,” he added.
Dr Hassan said we are in a grave public health crisis and precious lives are being lost each day. The lives of people should take priority over everything else.
“We should go for compulsory licensing now,” he said.
Dr Hassan said in order to respond to the huge demand for vaccines and drugs, there is a need to rapidly upscale production, which can only happen when there are more companies involved in manufacturing and this is possible by issuing compulsory licenses.
He said Tocilizumab, a life-saving drug for Covid is one of the patented drugs for which the government should invoke a compulsory licensing clause.
“The drug which costs Rs 40,000 for a single dose is manufactured by Switzerland based pharma company Roche and is marketed by Cipla in India. Despite being on clinical protocol, there is a shortage of the drug,” he added.
The DAK President said though the patent owner of Remdesivir Gilead, a US based Pharma Company has allowed few Indian pharma houses to produce the drug, there is an increased demand amid severe second wave of the pandemic and we need to permit others to manufacture the drug.
He said in order to reach herd immunity we need to vaccinate three in five and for that the country needs 150 to160 crore doses of the vaccine. And we need them quickly. Currently, India is producing 65 million doses every month,” he said.
“This makes a crying need for patent wavering and granting of compulsory licensing for other manufacturing units to produce the vaccine,” said Dr Nisar.