Compulsory Licenses Won’t Solve a Healthcare Crisis
Over the past two years, India has invalidated or otherwise attacked patents on 15 drugs produced by innovative pharmaceutical firms. While the claim is that this promotes lower prices and expanded access to medicines, in truth this is industrial policy not health policy. The clear beneficiaries are local generic manufacturers, not Indian patients. The majority of Indians do not need Nexavar, or any of the other patented drugs being considered for compulsory licenses. They need doctors, nurses, clinics, and hospitals. Put simply, a functioning healthcare infrastructure. Basic health statistics clearly illustrate the real problem, India currently accounts for one-third of the deaths of pregnant women and close to a quarter of all child deaths. The battle for health in India will not be won with compulsory licenses. It will be won with investments of resources on the ground in local communities.