Even USA is giving vaccines at lesser price, why should our citizens pay so much? Supreme Court questions COVID-19 vaccine pricing policy

The Supreme Court on Friday disapproved of the Central government’s COVID-19 vaccine pricing and procurement policy, remarking that vaccines which states have to procure are overpriced.

A three-judge Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, L Nageswara Rao and Ravindra Bhat did not pass any binding directions or order in this regard, but asked the Centre to examine the issue religiously.

Rules 19 and 20 of the Drugs Price Control Order require the Centre to control the price of drugs, he added.

The Court made the remarks while hearing the suo motu case initiated by it to examine issues relating to COVID-19 management in the country.

Justice Bhat stressed on the significance of cooperative federalism, stating that this is a public health emergency.

He also asked whether the Central government considered invoking Section 92 of Patents Act and issuing compulsory licenses so that drugs can be manufactured while royalties are sorted.

“Compulsory licenses can be granted with sunset clause which shows that such licenses will be over once the pandemic is over. Doha Declaration of TRIPS show that member states can take such steps to protect right of public health,” he said.

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