Government-use compulsory licensing has almost always stirred up controversies and debates with regard to its appropriateness, actual benefits, and detriments. Patent owners and advocates of IP protection remain firm on the position that while a country has the right to override patents by issuing compulsory licenses (CLs) in certain limited circumstances, this should be viewed as a last resort, not a preferred method of tackling public health issues. On the other hand, patient rights groups, NGOs, and pro-CL governments argue that implementing CLs is in line with international obligations under the WTO framework, which affords member states the right to challenge patents in order to promote access to medicines and resolve public health problems. Although most of the earlier CLs issued in Asia mainly focused on solving health crises relating to HIV/AIDS or other epidemics, Thailand and India began to implement CLs as a means to increase access to drugs whose market prices are regarded as being too costly, including cancer drugs and cardiovascular drugs. This new trend is a slippery slope, and could easily turn into abuse of the patent system beyond what was intended under the WTO framework.
To read the full article “Compulsory Licensing Issues and Trends in Asia” (Pharmaceutical Patent Analyst, Vol. 2, No. 6, pages 681-683), please visit the website of the publisher, Future Science.