The Chairman of pharmaceutical firm Cipla has asked the Indian government to push for ‘obligatory licensing’ of drugs to improve access to essential medicines in the Third World.

Yusuf Hamied, often referred to as the grand old man of the Indian pharmaceutical industry, was here to propagate his vision of Indian companies being free to manufacture and market drugs at an affordable cost.

“It is important to have a compulsory licensing system. In fact, I am in favour of obligatory licensing where we don’t mind paying royalties to the patent holder but at least Indian companies should be able to manufacture and market essential drugs to make them more accessible ,” he said.

He said he was confident a Canadian system, which allows the country to copy any drug as long as it pays four per cent royalties to the patent holder, would be the best way forward for India.

Mr. Hamied, who stepped down as Cipla’s Managing Director earlier this year , said: “What is good enough for the Canadians, should be good enough for the Indians.

“There is big obsolescence in the drugs industry and new drugs are coming up all the time. We don’t want to encroach on the regulated developed world markets of the world. Just leave the developing world to us so that we don’t deprive millions and ensure access to affordable drugs.”

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