NATCO Pharma Ltd v. Bayer Corporation and the Compulsory Licensing Regime in Indian
Volume 6 Issue 1 (2013)
The access versus profit debate is a worldwide phenomenon in the pharmaceutical industry and India is no exception. In recent times however, India’s increasingly visible, pro-access stance has developed new teeth. In a spate of patent cases, the judiciary has made it clear that public interest is of prime importance and India will not tolerate the exploitation of its masses by drug giants looking to reap benefits. It was in this vein that the IPAB rendered its decision in Natco v. Bayer. Unfortunately however, the base created by the ruling remains weak at best. Not only does it fail to address crucial issues that could shape the future of Indian law in this area, but it also fails to consider the logical corollaries of its reasoning in some aspects. This note seeks to critically analyse the judgment in this light and explore the way forward. It argues that the decision’s overall interpretation of law, though sound in the factual matrix of this case, is problematic in the larger picture. The note concludes by outlining the possible effects of the decision on India’s pharma-patent regime and setting out the lessons to be learnt by the drug manufacturers.