An exploration of compulsory licensing as an effective policy tool for antiretroviral drugs in India

Health Matrix Clevel. 2013 Fall;23(2):425-57.


Access to affordable drugs for the treatment of HIV/AIDS and other diseases is increasingly challenging in many developing countries such as Brazil, South Africa, and India. These challenges are in part the result of strengthened patent laws mandated by the 1994 Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) treaty. However, there are underutilized instruments within TRIPS that governments can use to limit the adverse effects of patent protection and thereby ensure a supply of affordable generic drugs to their people. One such instrument is compulsory licensing, which allows generic manufacturers to produce pharmaceutical products that are currently subject to patent protection. Compulsory licensing has been used by a number of countries in the last few years, including the United States, Canada, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil, and Thailand, and is particularly significant for countries such as India, where large numbers of people are infected with HIV. This Article explores the feasibility of compulsory licensing as a tool to facilitate access to essential medicines within the current patent regime in India, drawing on the experiences of other countries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / economics
  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / supply & distribution*
  • Drugs, Generic / economics
  • Drugs, Generic / supply & distribution*
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • Health Services Accessibility*
  • Humans
  • India
  • Patents as Topic / legislation & jurisprudence*


  • Anti-Retroviral Agents
  • Drugs, Generic