Industry body FICCI said on Thursday the government should focus on connecting with global pharmaceutical companies to facilitate technology transfer and voluntary licenses to Indian companies which have the capacity and capability for mass production of Covid vaccines.
“This will be a definite game-changer and help in creating a robust manufacturing ecosystem with scalability in the country. FICCI believes that the government has initiated steps in this direction, and we believe that these should be concluded soon,” it said in a statement.
FICCI said the country has a right to invoke compulsory licenses under relevant sections of the Patents Act. However, it may not lead to enhancing manufacturing capacity in the near future.
This is due to the fact that lack of availability of essential raw materials and inputs poses significant constraint to the quick expansion of production capacity of the Covid vaccines. Besides, several regulatory and safety issues will have to be addressed, and this may take some time.
“The provision of compulsory licensing must be used cautiously and with utmost discretion. If not used judiciously, it may discourage innovator companies which have heavily invested in R&D, and turn out to be counterproductive to the present situation.”
FICCI said it is encouraging to note the US support for TRIPS waiver proposal, first advocated by India and South Africa as one vital tool to address the concerns on availability of Covid-19 vaccines.
“If accepted at the WTO and implemented, the temporary waiver will go a long way to enable scaling up of manufacturing and ensuring timely availability of affordable Covid-19 vaccines and essential medical products,” it said.
The industry body said India should not rush to do anything unilaterally that may undermine its present efforts to arrive at a multilateral solution. This approach will be more acceptable to the global business and larger community worldwide.
“The efforts should be to find a fine balance between effectively managing India’s present public health concerns on the one hand, amply demonstrating that India values and respects the global rules on IPR/TRIPS agreement on the other.”