DMPQ- What is Compulsory licensing or Trips Waiver ? Explain why it is important to eradicate the compulsory licensing in the view of devastating pandemic.

Recently, India and South Africa have piloted the proposal to waive key provisions of the TRIPS agreement on Covid-19 vaccines, drugs, therapeutics, and related technologies. This proposal has been now backed by the U.S also.

The TRIPS waiver proposal would give immunity to member countries from a legal challenge at the WTO if their domestic Intellectual Property Regulation (IPR) laws suspend or do not enforce IP protection.

The core idea behind this TRIPS proposal is that the IPR should not become barriers in scaling up production of medical products essential to combat Covid-19. However, the TRIPS waiver is unlikely to solve India’s Covid-19 vaccine shortage.

Instead of trying to obtain an IP waiver, the Indian government must enable vaccine manufacturers to expand production (through compulsory licensing) & reduce inefficiencies in procurement & distribution.

Need for Invoking Compulsory Licensing

Plugging Shortage of Vaccine

The richest countries have cornered about 80 percent of vaccine supplies so far. ? While India needs to supplement its output to ensure that a population of over 900 million which is above 18 years of age gets about 1.8 billion doses at the earliest.

Nudging Voluntary Licensing

An assertive posture on compulsory licences would also have the advantage of forcing several pharmaceutical companies to offer licences voluntarily.

Leading By Example

Licensing Covaxin widely would enable India to live up to its reputation of being the ‘pharmacy of the world’ and also put pressure on developed countries to transfer their vaccine technology to developing countries.

Favourable Regulatory Environment

A commitment to supply vaccines to India requires trust in the country’s regulatory and institutional environment, which the government must strive to instil through dependable commitments.

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