NEW DELHI, APRIL 28: The Supreme Court has asked the Centre to explain by Thursday the reason for the differential pricing of vaccines in the country.
“Different manufacturers are coming out with different prices. What is the Central Government doing about it? ….There are powers under …of Patents Act. This is a pandemic and national crisis. If this is not the time to issue such powers, what is the time?” a Bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat asked the Centre.
Under Section 47 and 66 of The Patent Act, 1970, the Union Government has the power to assume the patent rights for any product/equipment besides revoking in public interest the patent rights of the actual holders if they are found indulging in “mischievous” or acts “prejudicial” to the public.
The Bench while directing the Centre to explain its position on the vaccine pricing policy also asked the Union Government and States to file their respective affidavits by Thursday on the steps taken to boost the infrastructural facilities to provide vaccines, oxygen, anti-virals and all COVID related steps to mitigate the hardships of people. It posted the matter for further hearing to Friday.
Serum Institute of India is offering to sell its vaccine Covishield at Rs 400 per dose to state Governments and Rs 600 to private hospitals. Its price for the Centre is Rs 150 per dose. Bharat Biotech has offered to sell Covaxin at Rs 600 per dose to State Governments and Rs 1,200 to private hospitals. Its price for the Centre is Rs 150.
Senior Advocate Vikas Singh, representing the Bengal Government, told the Court that for the past 73 years there has been a uniform vaccine price for the Centre and States but this time there is different pricing for the Centre, states and private hospitals. (Courtesy: TT)