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Why blame the minister?

Why blame the minister?
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First Published: Tue, Apr 29 2008. 01 12 AM IST
Updated: Tue, Apr 29 2008. 01 12 AM IST
You had a word of caution for the agricultural minister on his enthusiasm on the bumper crop this year (“Caution, not exuberance”, Mint, 24 April). But he can’t be blamed for the fluctuations in the price index. In the modern world, price is no more a matter of simple supply and demand, and involves players at various levels. Further, there has been a shift in commodity preferences and crop acreage due to increased industrial demand. Even edible crops are being shifted to uses other than consumption (biofuels, for example). A possible solution is that new land be identified for cultivation of crops for industrial purposes. This way, existing land can be used to produce food and new, barren land can be used to cultivate crops for other use.
- Vinay Singhal
Why grant patents at all if you are looking at robbing the rights conferred by them (“A lifeline for millions,” Mint, 22 April)?
Issuing a compulsory licence is a short cut. I suggest something better: Why not exclude certain drugs from the ambit of patents? Very soon, there will be no patents to enforce licences upon. Sorry, but that’s the way we seem to be headed.
If numbers were a metric, then everything in India would look big and reasonable. Our huge population can justify anything. But that’s not how things work in reality.
A society that believes in meritocracy cannot shy away from the responsibilities of giving merit. That’s what patents do. The government of the day and also ones in the future cannot act like popular cine stars— playing to the gallery. If innovation comes at a price, somebody will have to pay, since we as a nation have been of late bad at innovation. Subsidies cannot be a long-term answer for anything, be it medicines or basmati rice for a few.
The argument of enforcing compulsory licence, whenever it’s deemed urgent by some people, seems to be flawed. A patent is granted to something which nobody else is capable of making. The authors argue in their article that “compulsory licences can be issued to generic producers if patented drugs are not available or affordable, or if countries that lack production capacity order drugs from India.” Manufacturing facilities are unavailable because of lack of know-how. Nobody is stopping any generic producer from producing something. It is just that they don’t know how!
Every successful drug carries the cost of failures. To say that they are expensive is taking a short-term view. Granting of meaningless patents is something that needs to be looked at seriously. If the patent granted is weak and is a mere modification of something known earlier, the patent authorities will be simply spitting in air.
My last point. In our country, unfortunately people will buy pizza, clothes, watch films but will ask questions about ethics and life when asked to pay for medicines. It’s sad that health care is looked upon as something altruistic. We look pathetic as far as regulations are concerned. A measure of people’s purchasing power should be taken into account instead of taking a general view.
Why doesn’t the government procure medicines from drug makers, instead of only making rules? It’s a known fact that post-marketing expenses of even life-saving drugs are huge. If the government is able to procure these medicines, then prices will be reduced greatly.
The onus is on everyone who wants to be healthy.
If patents are so easily revoked, why not rob the rich in the manner of Robin Hood to save the poor in every aspect? Let’s have a (utopian) society where there’s?no?inequality?and?no one’s rich and no one poor.
That’s the stuff of Utopia and that’s something impossible. What is possible is fair regulations and implement them quickly.
- Kumar S. Roy
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First Published: Tue, Apr 29 2008. 01 12 AM IST
More Topics: Price | Crop | Biofuels | Patents | Views |