Why is Indian medicine so cheap?

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Why is Indian medicine so cheap?

India is a major global drug exporting country and has always been known as the “world pharmacy”. There are many kinds of internationally certified drugs. The FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) has licensed 650 Indian pharmaceutical companies to export drugs and related raw materials to the United States, while only 300 Chinese companies are allowed to export to the United States.

Why is Indian medicine so cheap? In addition to India's unique technological cost advantage, this is also due to India's unwavering implementation of the “drug compulsory licensing system”. To put it simply, the Western patent protection regulations are thrown aside and the latest and most effective drugs are copied. Generally speaking, once the expensive drugs in Western countries are listed, Indian pharmaceutical companies can imitate similar products under the protection of their own patent laws.

This situation has been going on for many years. At the end of the last century, the Indian government did not recognize pharmaceutical patents in Western countries. Until 2005, as part of an agreement with the World Trade Organization, India began to restore patent protection. However, the Indian Patent Law, which came into force that year, only provides patent protection for new drugs invented after 1995 or drugs that have been improved to greatly improve efficacy, and does not support original drug-mixed or derivative drug patents. At the same time, the Indian government can implement “compulsory licensing” as needed.

To put it simply, the “patent compulsory license” system means that, under special circumstances, the government may grant or permit other companies to use a patent without the consent of the patentee. This is also the world's most popular rule on patent restrictions.

To this day, there are still many Indian generic drug companies selling generic drugs while conducting patent law battles with the original R&D manufacturers. Most European and American pharmaceutical companies have failed in patent lawsuits in India. The Swiss Novartis company, which invented Gleevec, also conducted a “legal war” against the Indian government and the patent office in 2006, but eventually lost the case. The Indian drug company has produced generic drugs.


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