India, Novartis, and Australia’s new patent law

April 1 — about the only thing on the internet that wasn’t a huge Poisson d’Avril was the “landmark

4 thoughts on “India, Novartis, and Australia’s new patent law

  1. Good post, Charles. I do have some sympathy for Big Pharma because it does cost huge lots of money to get drugs on the market. Add to this that the substantial investments do not always pay off and you begin to understand their apprehension. Having said that, I do not dispute that most of them are money-grabbing bastards.

    I don’t think it’s possible to sensitise Big Pharma into adopting a new fairer policy simply because it would mean less money or more work on their part. But there are alternative routes to explore.

    One such route is Advance Market Commitments (AMCs), now sometimes employed with hope of developing vaccines for neglected diseases. Here’s a paragraph [source] which does a good job explaining what AMCs are:

    “The idea behind AMCs is relatively straightforward: donors and developing countries put out a call for a vaccine. Ahead of any research, development or manufacturing, governments commit to buying a certain amount – with the cost heavily subsidised by donors – if the vaccine meets certain predetermined standards. That guarantees the pharmaceutical company a set market and a good price for any drugs it develops. Once a fixed number of sales is reached and the pharmaceutical company has turned its profit, it is then obligated to continue selling long-term at an affordable price, or license the technology to someone who would.”

    The real power of AMCs is that it removes the risk factor from Big Pharma, placing them onto governments and especially donors. Such a strategy appears to invoke more commitment from Big Pharma.

  2. Ah, yes… the promise of the AMCs. I could write thousands upon thousands of articles on funding mechanisms that incentivise Big Pharma to make drugs and treatments for diseases they don’t deem profitable (see #NTDs). There are a number of mechanisms in place as well as AMCs. Priority vouchers, the US governments orphan disease scheme etc. Take a look at the work BioVentures for Global Health does. Some have had a good reception. And all have their good and bad points. For example, there is only one case for a priority voucher scheme working for an NTD.

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