The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has refused to share a copy of its MoU with Bharat Biotech, and the amount spent on the development of Covaxin sought by a Right to Information application filed by the Software Freedom Law Centre, India (SFLC.in).
ICMR has, however, disclosed that the royalty received by it from the sale of Covaxin would be 5% on its net sales.
The not-for-profit SFLC.in has said that since the ICMR qualifies to be a “public authority” under the Section 2(h) of the Right to Information Act, 2005, it had filed an application seeking a copy of the memorandum of understanding, funding details, and the royalty earned by the ICMR on Covaxin sales.
ICMR has responded that the copy of the MoU and the amount spent on the development of the vaccine is “third party confidential information” under Section 8(1)(j).
Prasanth Sugathan, legal director, SFLC, India, said, “ICMR being a government entity should have proactively disclosed the information regarding the MoU with Bharat Biotech. In the current scenario, it is unacceptable that the ICMR chooses to keep information relating to the MoU and the funding details under a veil of secrecy.”
He added that the ICMR should be transparent and take steps to ensure that the public gets the benefit of the research funded by public money by transferring the technology to other manufacturers including public sector units.
SFLC.in in a statement said it has filed a first appeal with the First Appellate Authority at the ICMR.