India's Product Patent Protection Regime: Less or More of 'Pills for the Poor'?

Gehl Sampath, Padmashree (2006). India's Product Patent Protection Regime: Less or More of 'Pills for the Poor'? Journal of World Intellectual Property, 9(6) pp. 694–726.



The year 2005 marks the end of the transition period for many developing countries with
competent pharmaceutical sectors that previously competed in supplying generic versions of
patented drugs to least-developed countries (LDCs), thereby inducing price competition and
enhancing access to medicines. In a post-2005 scenario, the critical issue is whether LDCs
without adequate manufacturing capabilities can make use of compulsory licensing expedi-
tiously to induce price competition and secure lower prices. This article uses empirical evidence
collected during a firm-level survey of the Indian pharmaceutical sector to generate evidence on
emerging strategies of firms. It shows that the vigour of compulsory licensing as a price-
leveraging instrument post-2005 is incumbent mainly on its economic feasibility. It shows that
Indian firms view the market potential (in terms of market size and profits involved in such
supply, especially if they have to make specific technological investments to produce the drug)
of the mechanism much more severely than before, and may be less inclined to engage in such
production if their commercial expectations are grossly unmet. The analysis assesses implica-
tions of emerging strategies of firms in the Indian pharmaceutical sector for access to medicines
both domestically and internationally, and highlights the challenges involved.

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