Compulsory licensing: the prologue


Ranjna Mehta-Dutt and Shukadev Khuraijam

Generic pharmaceutical manufacturer Natco has secured a compulsory licence to produce cancer drug Nexavar for the Indian market. Ranjna Mehta-Dutt and Shukadev Khuraijam report.

“The beginning is easy; what happens next is much harder”—Anonymous

Against the backdrop of an illusory Indian spring, the Indian patent office bequeathed India’s first compulsory licence to a local generic drug manufacturer: Natco Pharma. In doing so, it placed into practical circulation an untested provision—one it, apparently, considered perfect on paper. Germany’s Bayer, which had been granted the patent in question for its liver/kidney cancer drug Nexavar, has so far kept its future intention on the matter under wraps.

The decision was issued by PH Kurian on his last day in office as the controller general of patents, designs and trademarks. Having essayed many ground-breaking transformations at the patent office during his tenure, he can be said to have ‘gone out with a bang’ after seemingly opening the flood gates with this unprecedented ruling.

compulsory licensing, Natco, pharmaceuticals