“Introduction of the competition is the best way to lower the prices. Patent protection is the major barrier to the generic production of these medicines,” SJM said in a statement Sunday, proposing the government to use the public health safeguards in the Patents Act and permit more companies to produce these medicines.
As per Ashwani Mahajan, National Co-Convenor, SJM though the local production of Remdesivir and Favirapvir is taking place, the available quantity is “highly inadequate” to meet the increasing demand due to the severity of the problem.
“Another important medicine to treat Covid-19 patients with a deadly “cytokine storm” is Tocilizumab, which is not produced in India. The importation of this medicine is highly inadequate to meet the requirements,” Mahajan said in the statement.
Despite seven Indian companies making Remdesivir under the voluntary license, he said the quantity is not enough to meet the demand, and the price is very high from the point of view of affordability.
Explaining that Remdesivir price it is still very high and ranges between Rs 899-3490 per vial and cost of Tocilizumab is Rs 40,000 per vial, he said: “Under the present scenario the general public is reeling under the corporate greed, which needs to be curbed at any cost”.
“Issue either government use license under Section 100 or compulsory licence under Section 92 to scale up production of medicines like Remdesivir, Faviracire, Tociluzumab and new medicines like Molnupiravir,” he said.
In the case of vaccine, SJM said the country needs nearly 195 crore doses to cover at least 70% of the population, which can’t be fulfilled by the two companies- Serum Institute of India, and Bharat Biotech alone and there is an “urgent need to bring more manufactures to start the production”.
SJM has called for the facilitation of technology transfer of vaccines, including the trade secrets to all potential manufacturers to scale up production of Covaxin and Covishield and suggested the government to license vaccine production widely to more pharmaceutical companies with technological capabilities, instead of a few companies.
Citing an urgent need to invoke measures like ceiling of the prices of these medicines, SJM said the prices of vaccines announced by both companies for the state government procurement and private hospitals are “exorbitant and affect the acceleration of vaccination in the country”.
The organisation also proposed that India transfer the technologies for the production of medicines and vaccines globally and articulate the need for a waiver of intellectual property and facilitation of technology transfer in all relevant international forums at the global level and accelerate diplomatic efforts at G7, G20, and other groupings.
“SJM strongly deplores the statement of global corporate leader, Bill Gates that vaccine formula shouldn’t be shared with India and other countries,” SJM said, terming it “yet another manifestation of corporate greed to profit from the worst pandemic of the century” and that unreasonable profit for medicines and vaccines are unjustifiable in all circumstances, especially in a pandemic.