The Kerala Government seeks the response of the Central Government on a plea that prays for the compulsory licensing of vaccines to allow capable manufacturers to produce the vaccine, while considering the second wave of infections.
It was heard by the Division bench of the HC consisting of Justices Raja Vijayaraghavan and Mr Anitha.
The petition was filed by a lawyer Advocate Gopakumar GK, through Advocates Abdul Raoof P, KR Avinash and Raj Carolin V.
The petition stated that the country is in dire need of vaccines and is facing an acute shortage. This is a result of vaccine manufacturers being unable to produce the vaccine. Due to this, the petition states that the capable Indian companies should be allowed to manufacture the vaccine by invoking compulsory licensing. This has been approved by WTO.
The petition thereby sought the following:
- A declaration that mandatory licensing is permissible for vaccines and medicines for the treatment of COVID-19 in India due to the surge in cases.
- Guidelines to the respondents to issue a compulsory license or grant permission to pharmaceutical companies to manufacture the covid-19 vaccine in the given time period, overriding intellectual property legislations and international commitments.
In the petition, Adv Gopakumar pointed out that countries are free to issue compulsory warrant during emergencies with the liberty of deciding what an emergency is. India’s IPR demands compulsory licensing under the Patents Act, 1970, the petition asserts, provided the patent owner is suitably compensated.
The petition referred to the Patents Act and started that the upsurge in the cases fall into the three categories that empowered the Central Government to direct compulsory licensing.
- The country must be in a state of National Emergency;
- The requirement should be extremely urgent;
- It must for public noncommercial use.
“A virus that has been taking lives of 4000+ Indian qualifies for all three. So, India can go ahead with this, logically. India can override patents on Pfizer and AstraZeneca and other vaccines,” the plea stated.
It also noted that none of the vaccines are patented as of now which may make it “technically impossible to rely on the provisions regarding the compulsory licensing in the Patent Act.”
The petitioner in this view suggested that that the Government should start licensing Covaxin, it being homegrown.