Othoman Mellouk, describes some tactics used by companies to hike drug prices. He also highlights how civil society is fighting back. Othoman is ITPC’s Intellectual Property & Access to Medicines Expert.
When I caught sight of the recent news that Germany’s patent court had granted a compulsory license for the manufacturing of a HIV drug, I celebrated.
A compulsory license is a legal tool at governments disposal (included in national laws and authorized by international agreements and treaties). It allows them to suspend patent protection on a specific medicine and authorize someone other than the patent owner to produce a generic version of a medicine to address a public health problem. It makes essential, expensive, medicines more affordable.
The scenario of over-priced drugs is so common, that you’d think compulsory licenses would be fairly standard. The case of Gilead charging between $4 and $1000 a day for the same medicine depending on the country it’s marketing to is well-known. Unfortunately, compulsory licenses are rarely used to address such abuses…