KOCHI : The Kerala High Court on Tuesday directed the Union government to decide within one month whether it could intervene and make available a lifesaving medicine for breast cancer patients in the country at an affordable price.
“As per the available statistics, an alarming number of women succumb to breast cancer by reason of their inability to afford expensive treatment and medication. The right to life guaranteed under the Constitution, coupled with the State’s duty to improve public health, calls for emergent and effective action in the matter,” held the court.
The court was hearing a petition filed by a retired bank employee, diagnosed with HER2- Negative Metastatic Breast Cancer and is undergoing ‘targeted therapy’ treatment. The petitioner said she is receiving a monthly pension of ₹ 28,000 and the monthly cost of the medicines for her treatment comes to ₹63,480. One medicine, Ribociclib, alone costs ₹ 58,140 per month, she said.
Ribociclib is an imported medicine and if it’s manufactured in Inida the cost will come down substantially, the petitioner submitted. Ribociclib presently enjoys a patent monopoly and its manufacturers are hence prevented from producing the medicine without the consent of the patent holder.
Section 92 of the Patents Act, 1970 provides for compulsory license and section 100 empowers the government to requisition lifesaving medicines in cases of extreme necessity, the petitioner said. Citing these, she had submitted a representation before various authorities requesting immediate action. She had received an acknowledgement from the Ministry of Women and Child Development that informed her that the representation is now before the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).