TODAY -

Patents or people: The conundrum of healthcare industry

Students of IIM, Indore *

 Patents or people: The conundrum of healthcare industry



The first traces of SARS-CoV-2 virus (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2) were discovered in November, 2019 in Wuhan, China. Since then, the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has transformed from a local disease into a global pandemic.

While countries across the world, rich and poor, are fighting the pandemic with all force, a common problem which stands in their way is the uneven distribution of resources and services in their societies. It is evident that a country cannot develop sustainably with the sole emphasis on the business motive of expanding profits, or enlarging the pie.

Equal attention has to be paid to the distribution of this pie amongst the people. The division of resources must be sensitive to inequalities which manifest in various forms such as income, social, and gender disparities.

Speaking in one of the online sessions of Sustainable Development e-talks (#SDGtalks) co-hosted by Indian Institute of Management Indore and CNS, Anand Grover, a noted Supreme court lawyer and former United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, explained how the human right to health is included in the right to life, enshrined under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

He said that, “The right to life includes the right to live with dignity”. However, the right to health can only be realized by ensuring accessibility and availability of medicines to all. The current pandemic of COVID-19 has forced the health system to test its ability to provide adequate healthcare services to all those in need.

Triumph in the fight against diseases can be made possible through the collective efforts of the governments, the pharmaceutical industry and the people. The pharma industry invests billions of dollars in the development of diagnostics and treatments.

But when these enter the market and seem within grasp, they remain far from the grip of many. This is due to the high price tags attached to them. According to Grover, “Cost of medicines is one of the key factors that affect the right to health”.

The cost of medicines is heavily influenced by patents. Patent is a negative right which is a trade-off between public and private interests. “Patent law has an impact on the right to health and access to medicines as it creates and protects monopolies”, believes Grover.

Monopoly pricing power is the right of a pharma company to decide the price of a patented drug. The patent duration depends upon the drug and Intellectual Property laws of the country. Pharma industries often misuse this power to increase their profits by wide margins. Nevertheless, this can be controlled to a large extent through government interventions. The policy frameworks equips the government with the power to maintain free and open markets.

Patents are of two kinds- patents on process and patents on product- as explained by Grover. A patent on a product disqualifies any entity, other than the patentholder, from selling the product. On the contrary, patents on process allow other entities to sell the drug by altering the process of manufacture. Such drugs are usually known as generic medicines.

India has emerged as the hub of generic drugs that have helped to make life saving medicines become affordable and accessible to all, as exemplified by the case of drugs to treat HIV/AIDS. In 2000, the patented HIV drugs costed about US$ 10,000 per year treatment, per person. Generic drugs of Indian companies, made them available at US$ 200-250 per person per year.

Today, these drugs cost around US$ 20-30 per month per person. Grover informs that the unique selling point of the HIV movement is the strong community participation that went a long way in achieving reduction in prices of HIV drugs.

When pricing is left unchecked, private healthcare services can engage in drug price inflation. For instance, Gurugram’s Fortis hospital (in the private sector) issued a whopping bill of Rs 16 lakhs for a 15-day-treatment of a 7-year-old dengue patient. The girl later died, after spending days on a ventilator. Investigation revealed that the hospital had charged an outrageously high amount for the treatment.

The margin on medicines and other consumable products ranged from 25% to 1700%. For example, Rs.200 were charged for each disposable syringe procured at Rs.15.29 by the hospital. And this is not a one-off incidents, showing the blatant greed of the private healthcare sector in putting profits far above the people's good.

Licensing framework serves as a check against these practices, in case of patented drugs. There are two types of licenses – compulsory and voluntary. A compulsory license can be issued by the government, without the consent of the patentholder, to other entities for drug production. Voluntary license is granted by the patentholder to other manufacturers for production of drugs for specific regions.

Compulsory license, if issued for public interest, is completely legal and aligned with the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement and the Indian Patent law. Price control can also be exercised through the Drug Price Control Order (Essential Services Act). However, patented drugs are exempted from this for a period of five years.

Grover worded the question, about COVID-19 drugs and vaccines, that needs immediate attention as, “Will the governments issue compulsory licenses or will the companies resort to voluntary licensing and exclude certain countries?”

The primary aim of intellectual property laws is to protect the authenticity of ideas and foster innovation. It serves as a tool for augmentation of investments in research and development. In the healthcare industry, it facilitates discovery of new drugs and improved treatment methods.

But the sanctity of this legal framework is, more often than not, annihilated by the profit-oriented practices of private players, wherein pharmaceutical companies misuse patents to extract huge profits by charging exorbitant prices for the patented products. Trying times, like the current pandemic, intensify the gap between equal accessibility of healthcare to all and profit motives of the private players.

The legal framework bestows the power to issue compulsory or voluntary licensing as pre-emptive measures against the same. Nonetheless, the difference exists. Ergo, it is the need of the hour to bridge this gap, and make 'Availability of Healthcare to All', a reality.


Abhay Singh, Divyansh Prakash, Isha Garg, Jeevan Joseph, Ram Karthikeyan, Stuti Khandelwal
(authors are students of Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Indore, India
and part of the internship at Citizen News Service - CNS)



* Students of Indian Institute of Management (IIM) in Indore wrote this article and shared by Bobby Ramakant - CNS
The sender can be reached at ramakantbobby(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on June 20 2020 .



* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Imphal Ring Road and violations
  • COVID-19 Status 25 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • Condemns attack on Student at B'lore
  • World Lung Day 2021
  • Training on Mushroom Cultivation
  • Tarpon Katpa @ Loktak #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 24 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Land transfer commotion in Jiribam
  • Seminar On Youth & Environment organised
  • Irawat the Legend #2
  • 6 from Manipur cleared Civil Services Exam
  • World Pharmacist Day 2021
  • Scapegoating foot soldiers
  • The battered body says it all
  • World Alzheimer's Day : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 23 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • World Alzheimer's Day 2021 commemorated
  • MaolKeki Scholarship at St Stephen College
  • Condemnation on killing of Athuan Abonmai
  • Sana Leibak Manipur
  • Feelings :: Poem
  • Nominal monetary solace to Covid victims
  • Abducted from under the nose of cops!
  • Guru Leimapokpam Lakpati: Nata Sankritan
  • COVID-19 Status 22 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • Vanijya Utsav @Imphal #1 : Gallery
  • Truth should prevail over ethnic politics
  • COVID-19 : Impact in Manipur :: News Timeline
  • Projects for Tamenglong & Noney
  • Changes :: Poem
  • Good road must to reap fruit of Act East
  • Rio, Sarma taken on board?
  • Discussion: Merger Agreement 1949 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 21 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • Safe maternal and newborn care
  • Mourns demise of Naba Chakthekpi
  • Admin & Business Support @ R-Square
  • International Peace Day on Sept 21 2021
  • Customer Service Reps @ Amber & Arthur
  • Prioritising election, ignoring Covid-19
  • Not the time to let the guard down
  • Mova Cave, Hunpung, Ukhrul #3 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 20 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • Irawat the Legend #1
  • Leishangthem Dhanachandra ..rears Sareng
  • Economic devpt & climate deterioration?
  • Detachment without Resentment
  • Wishful thinking for end to election-money
  • Drugs & manufacturing units within State
  • Kanglasha Kaba Khanba removal #2: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 19 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • Sep 20, a crucial week for Nagaland
  • Lord's echo :: Poem
  • Jobs opening at Changerline, Imphal
  • In search of roots
  • Opposition cosy up as poll date nears
  • The end of RN Ravi's saga
  • 27th August 1965 : Birth of students force
  • COVID-19 Status 18 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • World's largest adult vaccination program
  • 2nd State Level Yogasana Sports C'ship
  • Just survival is enough :: Poem
  • Add oats to your beauty regime
  • Thri Kappi Sanaba @Andro #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 17 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • Legal Campaign [17 Sep] : Gallery
  • Demise of Padma Shri Thongram Haridas
  • Legal Awareness & Outreach Campaign
  • Changes that the time brings :: Poem
  • AMWJU Foundation Day [16 Sep] : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 16 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • Mapping the Changemakers of NE India
  • Will inclusion centrestage at Equality Forum
  • World ozone day & the living beings
  • Understanding CAT
  • Eternally struggling Manipuri women
  • Posers on the Interlocutor
  • Zeilad Lake, Tamenglong #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 15 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • Report on 54th Engineers Day 2021
  • Social Media & Political Campaigning
  • What if ? :: Poem
  • Condolence prayer for Oscar Fernandes
  • Virus threat not over yet
  • The virus is still out there!
  • RIMS, Imphal #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 14 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • Nagaland CM Rio calls Ravi 'genuine' man
  • Role of media in combating Covid
  • One day business shut-down in Dimapur
  • The warning bell is ringing loud & clear
  • Anxiety over arrival of train service
  • Choosing candidate the first step
  • Raghu Leishangthem : Manipuri Poet Biodata
  • COVID-19 Status 13 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • Memo to CM : Inclusion of Meetei in ST
  • Without you :: Poem
  • Lessons from the pandemic
  • ICS (IAS) viva voce of Khushwant Singh
  • Blaming predecessor till near end of term
  • Questioning truce pacts with others
  • ILP & COVID checking @Jirighat : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 12 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • Webinar: Higher Edn & Career in USA & UK
  • Prostate Cancer: Know its warning signals
  • Hope heals crisis :: Poem
  • AFSPA in NE amid peace accords
  • TSE completes 22 years : 1999 to 2021
  • Pathetic Road @Imphal-Jiri : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 11 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • National Lok Adalat in High Court of Manipur
  • On tourism in the Northeast
  • The Dement Corona Avoids :: Poem
  • The prism of relationships
  • Reappraisal of early Meitei settlement
  • COVID-19 Status 10 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • Royal Charter Day celebrated
  • Poshan Abhiyaan : A people's movement
  • MTech in Defence Tech at Amrita Univ
  • Ethno-Veterinary medicine in livestock
  • Power dept employees eyeing soft target
  • Taking a look at issues in 2012, 2017
  • Meetei Leikai @, Silchar, Assam #1: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 09 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • The uncle conundrum
  • Himalayan Day : Science & Knowledge
  • Pandemic : changing dynamics of preschool
  • Common factors that enhance beauty
  • Another peace deal sans solution..
  • Rolling up sleeves ahead of Assembly polls
  • Development, Ethnicity & Gender : Book Rvw
  • COVID-19 Status 08 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • World Suicide Prevention Day 2021
  • 'bob World' : Mobile application launched
  • Glimpses of Love :: Poem
  • How much more ordeal can Afghans take?
  • Tall claims on reforming agriculture sector
  • The commandments from WHO
  • Burma refugees yes or no ?
  • COVID-19 Status 07 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • Biotechnology Grant (BIG) for startups
  • Teaching as a career in India
  • Epitome of impeccable humanity & humility
  • Role of CSOs vital in preventing virus
  • Disturbing high TPR in some hill districts
  • Fine Arts Exhibition MU #3: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 06 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • Immune boosting for lactating women
  • Give up on fear not dreams !
  • Stop plantation of Palm Oil Trees in NE
  • Another Perspective of Life :: Poem
  • ..right recipe for bitter electioneering
  • Debate over ST status for Meiteis
  • Jadonang in History :: Part 2
  • COVID-19 Status 05 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • Athokpam Kholchandra : Dr Kamal Kabiratna
  • Remembering Lord Krishna appearance day
  • Sustainable livestock farming
  • After 9 years, thirst to serve unchanged
  • Disturbing TPR in some districts
  • Saikhom Mirabai: Olympics #2: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 04 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • World Sexual Health Day in Manipur
  • Save The Peace : Conf on Indo-Naga peace
  • Teachers, I salute thee !
  • The Art of Living :: Poem
  • Bongbal Kholen, Kangpokpi #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 03 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • Manipur Art Festival 2021 canceled
  • Towards a new Manipur Budget 2022-23
  • Inauguration of NPF Manipur Head Office
  • Natural facial at home for glowing skin
  • School yearning to resume normal class
  • The uproar over Urea 'shortage'
  • Chaklam Khongchat Numit #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 02 Sep : Govt of Manipur
  • Pundit Raja Atombapu : Doyen of journalism
  • Friends :: Poem
  • Meeting report at Cachar, Assam
  • Indigenous peoples & a new social contract
  • Pseudo-indigene permanent threat to native
  • Heavy rush for admission to Class XI
  • Jadonang in History :: Part 1
  • Memorial Stone & Shaheed Minar : Gallery
  • An officer and a gentleman
  • Mass production of biofertilisers
  • Kannappa Naayanaar - World 1st Eye Donor
  • Will election ruin gains made in virus fight
  • Signing off August with lowest TPR
  • Keidoubagi Kidoino on COVID #3: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 31 Aug : Govt of Manipur
  • September Calendar for Year 2021 : Tools
  • Revisiting all alphabets of Article 371
  • Abdication :: Poem
  • Need a softer approach to language issue
  • 2022 polls: Tough task for Congress
  • Party hopping antics before the election
  • Death Anniv: Shimreingam Shaiza: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 30 Aug : Govt of Manipur
  • Khangminashi Lecture VIII : Electric Vehicle
  • Ardent Gardener :: Poem
  • Vision Correction doesn't need a doctor
  • No place for Meetei in Heritage Museum?
  • Ordinary testing rate can't beat the virus
  • Why not make it a poll call
  • 90th Martyr Day- Haipou Jadonang : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 29 Aug : Govt of Manipur
  • Cycle Rally- Natl Sports Day, MU : Gallery
  • Looking beyond the next 4 months
  • Laonii Fest of Poumai #2 : Gallery
  • Phuba Khuman, Senapati #2 : Gallery
  • 13th August @BT Park #2 : Gallery
  • Manipur Olympians reception : Gallery
  • Mary Kom reception- Aug 20: Gallery
  • Hijam Gourashyam : Manipur Sahitya
  • 13th August @BT Park #1 : Gallery
  • Sushila Likmabam reception- Aug 18: Gallery
  • S Nilakanta / P Sushila [Aug 11] #2 : Gallery
  • 13th August by CSOs : Gallery
  • 13th August @Thangal Complex : Gallery
  • 13th August @Hicham Yaicham Pat : Gallery
  • RK Sanayaima on 13th August : Gallery
  • S Nilakanta / P Sushila [Aug 11] #1 : Gallery
  • Mirabai felicitated truck drivers: Gallery
  • Saikhom Mirabai @Imphal #3: Gallery
  • Saikhom Mirabai @Imphal #2: Gallery
  • HSLC 2021 Result: Statistics Abstract
  • HSLC 2021 Result: 1st Division
  • HSLC 2021 Result: 2nd Division
  • HSLC 2021 Result: 3rd Division
  • HSLC 2021 : Pass % : Govt Schools
  • HSLC 2021 : Pass % : Private Schools
  • HSLC 2021 : Pass % : Aided Schools
  • Saikhom Mirabai @ Kakching: Gallery
  • HSE 2021 Result: Statistics Abstract
  • HSE 2021 Result: Subject Pass Percentage
  • HSE 2021 Result: District-Wise Pass %
  • HSE 2021 Result: Science Stream
  • HSE 2021 Result: Arts Stream
  • HSE 2021 Result: Commerce Stream
  • Shanglakpam Nilakanta: Olympics #2: Gallery
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2021 #3: Gallery
  • Sushila Pukhrambam :: Olympics : Gallery
  • Saikhom Mirabai : Tokyo Olympics 2020
  • Pukhrambam Sushila : Tokyo Olympics Dream
  • Sushila Likmabam: Olympics Dream: Gallery
  • Lalginsei, Radamchui, Ngaworpei: eMing
  • Downloadable Manipuri Calendar :: 2021