Kerala HC takes Suo Motu Cognizance of Unaffordable Nature of Patented Life-Saving Medications After Petitioner’s Demise

Tanisha Rana

Published on: September 17, 2022 at 20:25 IST

The Kerala High Court on Friday took suo moto cognizance of the unaffordable nature of patented medicines-life saving character.

When her attorney notified Justice VG Arun that the woman had recently died away, he was still debating a petition made by the woman, who was suffering from breast cancer and was in serious condition.

However, petitioner’s attorney Maitreyi Hegde stated that even if the woman had passed away, her passing shouldn’t have been in vain.

In order to address the crucial issue, the Court concurred and decided to let the petition to move forward as a suo motu case.

“I am of the considered opinion, the unfortunate incident should not result in the cause disposed by the petitioner to go in vain. Therefore, the writ petition shall continue on the boards of the court as a matter the court has taken suo moto cognizance of unaffordability of patented medicines-life saving character,” the Court said in its order.

Hegde was later appointed by the Court as an amicus curiae in the case.

The petitioner had been diagnosed with HER2-Negative Metastatic Breast Cancer and was having targeted therapy when she went to court to complain about the cost of the life-saving breast cancer drug Ribociclib, which runs around Rs. 58,140.

Manufacturers are unable to make Ribociclib without the approval of Novartis, the patent holder, due to the drug’s existing patent exclusivity.

It was said that the government may make use of Section 92 of the Patents Act, 1970, which provides for compulsory licencing, as well as Section 100 of the Patents Act, 1970, which grants it the ability to demand life-saving pharmaceuticals in situations of urgent necessity.

It was contended that the government’s inaction in assuring access to medication violates both the right to health guaranteed by Article 21 of the Indian Constitution and the fundamental principles of state policy, which call for the government to ensure public health.

Yesterday, Attorney Maitreyi Hegde argued that the respondents failed to follow any of the court’s directives ordering the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) under the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry to consider issuing a medicine with a compulsory licence.

The matter will be discussed again on September 29.

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