Brazil turns to compulsory licensing (of Efavirenz): Merck disappointed

Brazil decided to issue a compulsory license for Efavirenz generic, breaking the patent of Stocrin of Merck. This decision came after the failed talks of Govt of Brazil with Merck for a deep discount. Compulsory Licensing is the last resort under WTO rules.

Merck’s disappointment is evident in its press release.

After Thailand’s Kaletra row, it is Brazil which is taking the initiative now. Last week the US Trade rep placed Thailand on its priority list for not providing an adequate level of Intellectual property rights protection and enforcement. Brazil might enter the list sooner.

Indian Health minister Dr Anbumani Ramadoss is talking about compulsory licensing of essential drugs for long time now in his interviews. He may press the button soon on Novartis’s Gleevec.

All developing countries following the suite using the compulsory licensing clause of WTO may hit the drug development process targeted towards likes of infectious diseases over a longterm.

Merck’s statement mentions “This expropriation of intellectual property sends a chilling signal to research-based companies about the attractiveness of undertaking risky research on diseases that affect the developing world, potentially hurting patients who may require new and innovative life-saving therapies.”

Only developed nations having to bear the costs of R&D is not justifiable in a globalized world. Same time Big Pharma can not prevent the access to essential medicines because of poor paying capacity in developing countries.

We have to strike a balance somewhere.

Seeji, Pharm House

Intellectual Property Rights, the WTO and Developing Countries: The TRIPS Agreement and Policy Options