As countries all around the world battle disease – from the Nipah virus in India to Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo to the E. Coli outbreak in the United States – a “medicine bank” is an idea that has appeal.
Last month, India’s drug controller considered an innovative new proposal to amend the law for such a bank. The amendment might make it mandatory for pharmaceutical companies to spend at least 1% of their net profits to provide free medicines to a government-run “medicine bank” for health emergencies.
This amendment to the law might make this donation a mandatory part of the corporate social responsibility of pharmaceutical companies.
It would amend the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1945, or its Rules.
The drugs for this “medicine bank” would be stocked by the government for use during “health emergencies, disaster or any other circumstances considered necessary by the Central government”.
The Drugs Technical Advisory Board deliberated on this matter last month.
The 12-member panel “agreed initially on voluntary basis”, to this proposal. This may be made mandatory if the government actually goes ahead and amends the law.
Livemint reported on June 5 that the 1% allocation would be calculated on the basis of their net profits for the last three years.
The “medicine bank” would also reportedly be used in emergencies, both in India and abroad.
India brought in legislative changes in 2013, to make it mandatory for large companies to spend 2% of their average profits on activities in the social sector. This was done by amending the Companies Act. The new rules say that these development activities must be carried out in India and that foreign companies registered in India will also have to follow the same rules.