Voluntary Licensing: Access to Markets for Access to Health

The expansion of access to affordable drugs will play a central role in addressing present and future global health challenges. Given the vast social implications of increased access to medicines, the Indian patent system has historically maintained a pro–public health stand. However, the international political community is increasingly advocating for stricter patent regimes and India can no longer continue to ignore the pressure exerted by developed countries. In this context, this paper argues the viability of the voluntary licensing approach in reconciling the protection–versus–access debate. The voluntary licensing model provides a balance between intellectual property rights protection and public health concerns, and shows that one does not have to impinge on the other. While voluntary licenses maximise access and allow generic drug companies to circumvent the time–consuming process of patent–oppositions, they also offer pharmaceutical giants a more effective business model to enter developing markets.

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Tanoubi Ngangom