Government should not hesitate to invoke compulsory licensing of drugs under Patent Act: Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court recently stated that the Central government should invoke its powers under the Patent Act to direct mandatory licensing of the drugs to deal with the COVID-19 situation.

The court stated that the best way would be encourage the already existing manufacturers to speed up their production, as was done in the case of Remdesivir and also to grant voluntary licenses to others to manufacture.

The court also took note of the hoarding and black-marketizing of COVID-19 related drugs. It directed the Central government particularly the Drug Controller to issue necessary directions and undertake checking on regular basis to unearth all such cases.

During the hearing, the petitioner, highlighted that Delhi was facing an acute shortage of Remdesivir on account of the drug being given to other States.

The advocate appearing for Delhi government stated that Delhi was in a very alarming situation and there was a need to divert resources to it.

The Court accordingly directed that the Central government should review the distribution of Remdesivir to States and Union Territories, on the basis of the need/serious active COVID patients.

The court asked the Centre to urgently look at allocating more beds from amongst their hospitals since the number of COVID-19 patients needing hospitalisation is higher than last year. 

Further, the Court directed Central government to issue necessary directions for top-priority-clearance of imported machines by Customs authorities. It also directed ICMR to give top priority to clearances for setting up/expanding RTPCR test labs.

The matter is now scheduled to be heard next on April 22. 

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