An analysis of the patient assistance program launched by the big pharmaceutical companies of India
The latest decisions of the “Intellectual Property Appellate Board’s (IPAB)”to revoke the patent protection of Gefitinib, the cancer drug patented by AstraZeneca; Pegasys, hepatitis drug patented by Roche and Nexavar, the cancer drug patented by Bayer are the major setbacks of big pharmaceutical companies of India. In the above cases, the Indian generic companies have challenged the patent of these big multinational companies. The multinational drug manufacturers not only lost the legal battle, they also lose the support of Indian people. The main allegation of the general people is that they are selling the patented drug in Indian market at an exorbitant rate and making a huge profit from India. The big companies have rejected the accusations. The spokesperson of these companies said that a major portion profit made by them is use for the patient assistance program in India. Patient assistance program is earmarked for the patients who cannot afford the high cost treatment for the critical diseases.
Now, it is the time to verify the truth behind the claimsof patient assistance scheme of big pharmaceutical companies. There is no reliable information about the patient assistance program in India. The only exception is Glivec, a HIV drug by Novartis has a website that gives the detail information about their activities through “Arogya Parivar”. Therefore, nobody can assess the claim of assisting the poor patients. Therefore, there is a doubt about the authenticity about the company’s welfare program.
However, these companies follow a clear policy in America and European countries to inform the public about their patient assistance scheme. The information includes the eligibility criteria, application procedure, the amount of help and the contact address of the company. Anyone can get the information from the website of the company. Why the big pharmaceutical companies maintain the double standards? The double faced policy of the companies has raised the doubt about their claim on the utilization of excessive profit in patient assistance scheme.
Another point is if a company claims for this type welfare program in the court, the company should file an affidavit testifying the oath through its managing director. In the affidavit, the company will mention how many patients have been benefited by the scheme and effectiveness of the program. As far as I know, only Novartis have filed the affidavit in the case of Glivec. No other companies have filed the affidavit.
Recent verdict against the big pharmaceutical companies have proved that Indian generic companies have the power to fight against the monopoly of the big pharmaceutical companies acquired by patent of a specific drug. Now, the generic companies can manufacture and sell the drugs at a lower cost. India is now going to implement the rights of medical treatment to all.
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