The government has filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court (SC) on COVID-19 pandemic management. The Centre told the Supreme Court that it was not in favour of exercising powers under the Patents Act, such as compulsory licensing for vaccines and essential drugs like Remdesivir and Tocilizumab.
According to the government, the main constraint in production is the availability of raw materials and issuing additional licences will not lead to increased production. The Centre added that it was in diplomatic talks with other nations for procuring vaccines and other medicines, and any discussion on the exercise of statutory powers under the Patents Act will be counterproductive to that endeavour.
Also Read: Govt files affidavit before SC on COVID-19 pandemic management
On the Supreme Court’s question on explaining the rationale for differential pricing of vaccines, the Centre said that both manufacturers have taken financial risks in developing vaccines and it was therefore prudent to take decisions on pricing through negotiation and consultation. The government added that a statutory provision for determining pricing should be the last resort. The affidavit further states that the pricing of the vaccines won't be an issue because all state governments have announced free vaccinations.
Judicial intervention also finds a mention in the affidavit. The Centre said that any overzealous, but well-meaning judicial intervention may lead to unforeseen and unintended consequences, in the absence of any expert advice. The affidavit further added that the strategy and steps taken by the executive are based on expert and scientific advice, and needs to be appreciated.
The court has adjourned the hearing to May 13 as the affidavit was placed with the bench late last night and technical glitches this morning, forced an adjournment.
To discuss the details of the affidavit, CNBC-TV18’s Shereen Bhan spoke to Kewal Handa, former MD of Pfizer; TS Singh Deo, Chhattisgarh Health Minister; Murali Neelakantan, Principal Lawyer at Amicus; and Vikas Singh, Senior Advocate at Supreme Court.
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