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
  • Eikhoigi Puwarini Nambul Turel #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 04 July : Govt of Manipur
  • Implication of Draft EIA Notification 2020
  • COVID-19 : Impact in Manipur :: News Timeline
  • Plain packaging will aid in ending tobacco
  • The virus and I :: Poem
  • Impact of COVID-19 on students
  • Delimitation & development: Role of Census
  • War on invisible enemy
  • Manipur & the Lushai Expedition, 1871-72 #1
  • COVID-19 Status 03 July : Govt of Manipur
  • Online Painting/ Sketching Competition
  • Covid-19: Impact in Manipur :: Photos/News..
  • Extension of Disturbed Area Act in Nagaland
  • The Politics of South China Sea Disputes : Book
  • Xi Jinping - Know the man, his upbringing..
  • Save Nambul River mission
  • If 'Transparency' is an alien concept?
  • Fashion Show @ Sangai Fest #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 02 July : Govt of Manipur
  • Eikhoigi Puwarini Nambul Turel #1 : Gallery
  • German agency to support NE entrepreneurs
  • Naawa Seidum: 'Best Narrative Film' at MIFF
  • The twilight of nature :: Poem
  • Career scope in Chemistry
  • Condemns non-inclusion of bodo language
  • Compulsion behind 5 days ultimatum
  • Unfolding the menace of Health Department
  • View from Shirui Hills in Ukhrul #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 01 July : Govt of Manipur
  • Power dynamics: Leikai Clubs & Meira Paibi
  • Kinthuilung, Khelheibha, Lunpilal: eMing
  • People's charter of demands to PM & CMs
  • A discourse with my soul :: Poem
  • Can antiviral fabrics stop the spread of COVID
  • Design behind 'abnormal' growth ?
  • Apologetic misnomer
  • Kanglen Aarti katpa #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 30 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Land Commission for improving relations #1
  • National Statistics Day & Statistical system
  • Distribution of Face Mask to Old Age Homes
  • A walk on prime meridian
  • Manipur leads a valiant fight against COVID
  • 48 hours later and not yet a word
  • Fate of print media in aftermath of COVID-19
  • Great June Uprising @Kekrupat #3 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 29 June : Govt of Manipur
  • July Calendar for Year 2020 : Tools
  • Cyberbullying using social media as weapons
  • Distribution of Face Mask to CRPF Personnel
  • Sports, children & transferability to classroom
  • The rain sings outside the window :: Poem
  • Online learning enrolments during lockdown
  • Morphing from negative to positive
  • COVID-19 and its impact to community
  • Gandhari (Dance Drama) #4 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 28 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Takhelchangbam Kunjabihari : Wari Liba
  • Antrimwanbut Khwan : Inpui emagazine
  • Public services essential to COVID response
  • Rajas & Maharajas in Parliament
  • Naga artist Ket Meth releases music video
  • Extending lockdown till July 15
  • Neire, Mei Taare- words of the new generation
  • COVID-19 Status 27 June : Govt of Manipur
  • E-Conference : New Frontiers in Science
  • COVID mirror
  • Property Sales & Client Support @ R-Square
  • SKY Hospital - 12th Foundation Day
  • Benjamin Tao - Convenor, Manipur, TICCI
  • Online Social Work Alumni Meet at RGU
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Has state BJP succumbed to NPP's pressure?
  • Individual responsibility to battle Corona
  • COVID-19 Status 26 June : Govt of Manipur
  • The Lushai Expedition, 1871-72
  • Intl Day in Support of Victims of Torture
  • Remember :: Poem
  • Yoga as career choice
  • Head count on contentious census
  • In the game of politics
  • I Rise :: Film Scenes : eRang
  • Kits to frontliners @ ISBT : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 25 June : Govt of Manipur
  • International Day against Drug Abuse [Jun 26]
  • Corruption: A National Security Issue
  • Book : Rights & Entitlements at Chandel
  • Power tussle amid pandemic
  • Still no checking on corruption
  • Sangai Fest [Dec 1 2019] #3 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 24 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Essentials must include reproductive health
  • The Killing Fields 2013-20 : News Timeline
  • To peruse a father's heart :: Poem
  • The importance of the way we think
  • Politics of South China Sea disputes : Book
  • Art of running a coalition Govt
  • Great June Uprising @Kekrupat #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 23 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Sports and environment in Manipur
  • Corona stigma dogging even doctors & nurses
  • Mapping the Change Makers in North East
  • TNL knew better meaning of Quarantine
  • The Kukis, Justice and the UN
  • Scripting a high octane drama
  • QC at Saikul in Kangpokpi : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 22 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Impacts of Mapithel dam on forest & climate
  • Kang Chingba (Rath Yatra) Festival :: Book
  • Messengers of hope on World Music Day
  • Sound of environment :: Poem
  • Online Conclave for Women Entrepreneurs
  • Admission for Class XI should not be closed
  • Approaching the four figure mark
  • Demoralizing anti-corruption crusade
  • Lameithanbi - a myth with geological linkage
  • COVID-19 Status 21 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Highways of Life - best film at DocFest B'desh
  • The Unwelcome Delimitation : Part - II
  • We and today :: Poem
  • Yoga - A need of the hour
  • Cupid in COVID times
  • Voices for & against delimitation
  • Amur Falcon Fest @Tamenglong #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 20 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Gerrymandering in delimitation of AC
  • A humble tribute to fathers!
  • Jobs at LMP Technology, Canchipur
  • The gateway to heaven :: Poem
  • Nongpok Sanjenbam village #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 19 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Axone & Lingering Question of Racism in India
  • Training : Prevention of Spread of COVID-19
  • Patents or people: Conundrum of healthcare
  • Rahul Gandhi birthday observed at Dimapur
  • Programme on Disaster Risk Reduction
  • Curfew Violators- 19 June : Police Dept
  • Interesting election to lone RS seat
  • Arithmetic doesn't work in politics
  • Great June Uprising @Kekrupat #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 18 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Training program on cultivation of mushroom
  • NHRC registered Case to investigate Oil Spill
  • Experience :: Poem
  • Floriculture as career choice
  • Admission for Class XI at Govt Hr Sec School
  • Unfolding political developments
  • The fate of titular king in hard political game
  • Quarantine Center @ Mantripukri : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 17 June : Govt of Manipur
  • What Now for Returning Migrant Workers
  • Activation of State Food Commission
  • At a crossroad :: Poem
  • Women Entrepreneurs' program in Northeast
  • Curfew Violators- 17 June : Police Dept
  • 28 days quarantine period : TNL example
  • Arambam Samarendra Anniv #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 16 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Inevitable long wait alongside complacency
  • Compassion amidst the COVID gloom
  • Domestic Workers future beyond COVID-19
  • Poverty stricken student- 11th rank at HSLC
  • Consultative Meeting for Opening of Schools
  • On CM Rio press conference of June 15
  • Freebies on offer from schools
  • June 18 again: but is Manipur's territory safe
  • Class X (HSLC) Exam Toppers : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 15 June : Govt of Manipur
  • On George Floyd, breathless blacks & cops
  • Merit Scholarship - Class X & XII : Download
  • Condolence message for Th Oliver Monsang
  • COVID-19: Resilience & way forward
  • Understanding and accepting adversities
  • Nagaland Cabinet decision to regularize MOs
  • Spotlight on quarantine centres
  • Leirum and Luirim connotation
  • Class X Exam 2020 : Merit List
  • Class X Exam 2020 : Result Sheet
  • Class X Exam 2020 : Subject Toppers
  • Class X Exam 2020 : Statistics Abstract
  • COVID-19 Status 14 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Podcast on Manipur by Carnegie Endowment
  • Proposed park in Chivu needs a rethink
  • Home :: Poem
  • Social Media during Lockdown
  • Worrying double digit spikes
  • Adieu to Pi, Themneihat ..
  • COVID-19 Status 13 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Online Survey for people at Quarantine
  • The way forward after COVID-19
  • To strive for economic revival in COVID-19
  • A moonlit night in June :: Poem
  • Career options in Horticulture
  • Need for empathy & responsibility
  • Cultural @Sangai Fest 2019 #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 12 June : Govt of Manipur
  • The Unwelcome Delimitation : Part I
  • RIMS in top 40 Medical institute in India
  • FDP: Research Topic for Arts & Science
  • Importance of webinars for academicians
  • 'Strictly follow SOP by Nagaland Govt'
  • To be discharged sans test results
  • Now Chief Minister is silent on corruption
  • Livelihood implication on Unjas
  • COVID-19 Status 11 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Rethinking Oil exploration in North East
  • Decry the assault on Dr. N Haraba
  • Pandemic Parodies
  • CBSE exam for remaining subjects
  • QC Discharge Rule Clarification [11 June]
  • Looking back at first case, shutdown 1.0
  • Winning Covid-19
  • Arambam Samarendra Anniv #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 10 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Manipur's Draft Bamboo Policy
  • Sanjita Chanu cleared of doping charge- IWF
  • On reopening of schools in Manipur
  • Research & Project Associate at IBSD, Imphal
  • Concern with Oil Spill at Baghjan
  • Prison spell : CM bang on target
  • Even diarrhea kills human sometimes
  • Relief Services in 5 dists #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 09 June : Govt of Manipur
  • 4th delimitation in Manipur : Impact analysis
  • Sunzu Bachaspatimayum - Secretary of MFDS
  • Yes, Homecoming ! :: Poem
  • Speed up COVID-19 Test in Senapati IQC
  • Sales & Client Support @ R-Square (Imphal)
  • Curfew Violators [09 June] : Police Dept
  • Looking at cluster transmission
  • Is quarantine centers hotspot for COVID-19 ?
  • 2nd Barak Festival @ Senapati : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 08 June : Govt of Manipur
  • With Four Prime Ministers :: Book Review
  • Meeting with youth of Manipur amidst lockdown
  • COVID-19 Memo - Govt of Manipur [08 June]
  • Delimitation: Redrawing political ambitions
  • Quarantine @ JNV Yaralpat: Gallery
  • MA (Manipuri) in Meetei Mayek from 2020
  • Quarantine @ UNACCO School: Gallery
  • Motsillaba Mingsel :: eRang Photos
  • Laibi Oinam : Lady Auto Driver ...
  • Train @Jiri [May 28] #2 : Gallery
  • Geographical Indication, Leirum Phee & others
  • Thang Ta at Sangai Fest #3 : Gallery
  • I Rise :: Film Synopsis & Biography
  • Measures @ Imphal Airport - 25 May : Gallery
  • M.K Binodini Devi's Sense of Beauty
  • Phisakol #3 :: eRang
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2020 #2: Gallery
  • The Princess & the Political Agent : eBook
  • Tangkhul Forum vegetable for valley: Gallery
  • Items distributed to Tarao -Apr 23 #2: Gallery
  • SPONSORED ADS