13 June, 2021

The Red In That Green

Once known for strong patent laws, India is now yielding to pharma MNCs

The Red In That Green

Gloom was the predominant mood on the sunny day this aut­umn when Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) explained to Delhi journalists how it lost a long legal battle with Pfizer over the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, or PCV. The US pharma major had been granted a patent for Prevnar 13, said Leena Menghaney, South Asia head of MSF’s Access Campaign. That meant a 68 per cent rise in the cost of the vacc­ine available to developing countries.

The Indian patent authorities’ decision means each dose of the vaccine available to parents will cost Rs 3,800. Moreover, the spike in cost of procurement disables even the government to make the PCV available under the Universal Immuni­sation Programme.

Pfizer’s claim on the patent in India was based on assembling together serotypes (or different strains) of streptococcus pneumonia into a single carrier. The 1849-founded company already held the patent for a 7-valent PCV which also, acc­ording to MSF, an international huma­ni­tarian NGO, denoted a mere addition of serotypes to a vaccine...

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