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Good news or bad news depending on which side of the fence you are on. Patents are, of course, a government granted privilege (not "right") for the purpose of encouraging risk taking in the development of new products. What a government gives it has the right to take away. But if the purpose was to encouraging risk taking wouldn't this move signal the exact opposite and stop companies from developing new, expensive drugs.

That's the opinion I would have held a few years ago but, seeing the emergence of free (Open Source) software, which initially was resisted by the big software houses but which now is very much part of the scene, I wonder how a patent free drug economy would work.

Analysis: India cancer ruling opens door for cheaper drugs
By Kaustubh Kulkarni and Henry Foy | Reuters – 1 hr 27 mins ago

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India's move to strip German drugmaker Bayer of its exclusive rights to a cancer drug has set a precedent that could extend to other treatments, including modern HIV/AIDS drugs, in a major blow to global pharmaceutical firms, experts say.

On Monday, the Indian Patent Office effectively ended Bayer's monopoly for its Nexavar drug and issued its first-ever compulsory license allowing local generic maker Natco Pharma to make and sell the drug cheaply in India.

It is only the second time a nation has issued a compulsory license for a cancer drug after Thailand did so on four drugs between 2006 and 2008, also on affordability grounds. Thailand also issued licenses for HIV/AIDS and heart disease treatments.

Denny Schlesinger
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