Statutory cure of drugs shortage during corona pandemic

Amidst the global pandemic COVID-19, the entire humanity is under an actual and serious threat as rapid surge of corona cases is very much alarming in Pakistan. No doubt that the COVID-19 has challenged global health system. It is now crushing the fragile health system of Pakistan during the upcoming peak of coronavirus. There is an imminent need to cope up with this pandemic to save the lives of citizen with effective measures. Amongst other necessary requirements there is a dead need of life saving medicines along with the general care medicines which can be used to manage the COVID-19 patients as the cases are increasing at a wild speed and taking lives brutally.
Pakistan is still a developing country with weak economy due to behavioral dismay of its managers including both bureaucracies and politicians. Pakistan is being suffered with the multilateral challenges including poor health infrastructure. It is an open fact that the spread of COVID-19 could not be addressed as the need was. Symptoms reflect a large need of ventilators, life saving medicines for patients and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for first line soldiers. The global prevailing situation is understood that there are least chances of availability of all these requirements in suitable quantity to cope with the situation.
Unfortunately the medicines are being hoarded while these would be required at bulk for treating the patients struggling with COVID-19. The Hydroxychloroquine, Azithromycin and the Actemra injunctions are not available in market. Actemra injection is the main remedy for treating the serious corona patients which has become out of the reach of even well off patients. The hike of selfishness of persons associated with pharmaceutical business is miserably exploiting the dying humanity.
The Government of Pakistan is morally bound to protect its citizens in accordance with the article 9 of the Constitution 1973. Hope that government does not lay us at the mercy of greedy and selfish exploiters. It should take in time the necessary actions to curb the acute artificial shortage to restraining the illegal practices of medicines hoarding. If the government is sincere with the citizens it has a meaningful legal way to save them. It may invoke the compulsory licensing provisions of domestic as well the International Intellectual Property Laws. Sec 58 of the Patent Ordinance 2000 can be used in the public interest or for the health purpose.
The federal government may without the consent of the owner of the patent of needful drugs which are being disappeared in any way, may get compulsory license and give the formula to other pharmaceutical companies for producing the same at low and cheaper rates.
The Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan Act 2012 also suggests saving the lives of citizens. Federal government can turn and enforce the manufacturing and procurement of required necessary pharmaceuticals in the public interest. Under Section 7 of DRAP act 2012, the federal government may stable the supply with close match of demand and fix suitable prices in public interest further provides for procurement of foreign expertise in the public interest.
The apex court of Pakistan hold in the case of Getz Pharma vs The Federation of Pakistan (PLD 2017 Sindh 157) that where the drug is intended to heal the large part of population suffering from the disease in public interest (even if a patent was granted) federal government has ample power to invoke Section 58 of the Patent Ordinance to grant compulsory license to the local pharma companies to produce the said drug at cheaper rates.
In international law the non-voluntary compulsory license can get when it is seemed necessary for reasons of public welfare including health purposes. There has been a practical way of preventing the abuse of patent rights under the TRIPS Agreement. Article 31 of the Trips Agreement allows governments to act “in the case of a national emergency or other circumstances of extreme urgency or in cases of public non-commercial use” in such a manner as to make use of the subject matter of a patent without the authorization of the patent holder.
No doubt, in the history of Pakistan, the recent government is face to face so many challenges but the current challenges most important to face. By keeping aside all real difficulties and lame excuses, the government has to do something for the State and its citizens because it is a proved truth that there is a way when there is a will. Hope the Government will come into action and proves its writ in the best interest of Pakistanis.

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