Photo of Ashwin Sapra

Partner in the General Corporate Practice at the Delhi Office of Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas. With a specialist focus on intellectual property, pharmaceuticals / medical devices regulatory and compliance affairs, Ashwin has an extensive domestic and international experience of 19 years providing advice on matters relating to intellectual property, drug and medical device regulatory and compliance affairs, transactional affairs, anti corruption and anti kick back laws, litigation and dispute resolution. He can be reached at ashwin.sapra@cyrilshroff.com

Over the Counter drugs Regulations in India

Over The Counter (OTC) drugs are drugs that can be sold by pharmacists without a prescription from a Registered Medical Practitioner (RMP). Many drugs are sold over the counter without prescription, but the regulatory regime is grey in this regard, primarily because the term OTC has not been expressly defined under the Drugs & Cosmetics Act, 1940 (D&C Act) and the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945 (D&C Rules). Regulatory ambiguity is set to change, however, as the Central Government is now actively considering regulating the sale and distribution of OTC drugs[1].


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Oxytocin Ban in India

Oxytocin is life-saving drug that is used for the induction and assistance of labour in women during childbirth. It is also used to stop postpartum haemorrhage (excessive bleeding). The drug also aids milk secretion during the lactation process. Because of its inherent lifesaving properties in humans and cattle, Oxytocin is identified as an essential medicine in the 20th World Health Organization (WHO) Model List of Essential Medicines, March, 2017[i]. It also continues to be included as an essential medicine in the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM), 2015[ii].
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The Healthcare Service Personnel and Clinical Establishments Bill, 2019

In the backdrop of recent attacks and acts of violence against medical practitioners and a growing demand for protection in this regard, the Central Government is considering steps to ensure protection is granted to healthcare professionals and clinical establishments, by making such acts punishable offences under law. After numerous meetings with doctors and other stakeholders, the Department of Health and Family Welfare (Medical Services Division), of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, vide notification dated September 2, 2019,  proposed a draft legislation titled ‘The Healthcare Service Personnel and Clinical Establishments (Prohibition of Violence and Damage To Property) Bill, 2019’ (the “Bill”).
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The National Medical Commission Act, 2019

The National Medical Commission Act, 2019 (NMC Act) has been notified vide the Gazette Notification dated August 8, 2019. The NMC Act aims to repeal the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956 (IMC Act) and constitute the National Medical Commission (NMC), which shall supersede the Medical Council of India (MCI).

This blog post is part of a multi-part series. In this first part, we provide an overview of the salient features of the NMC Act and the regime proposed by it. In subsequent parts, we will endeavour to analyse the various contentious issues in the NMC Act in greater detail as the same has been met with significant angst from medical professionals.
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New Drugs and Clinical Trials Rules, 2019 – A Regulatory Overview India 

Issues around payment of compensation in cases of clinical trial related injury, disability and death have long remained open. Despite a directive from the Hon’ble Apex Court, much was left open to question. On March 19 of this year, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) eventually took steps in this regard and notified the New Drugs and Clinical Trials Rules, 2019 (NDCT Rules) under the aegis of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 (D&C Act), thus bringing an end to a long-drawn-out process to codify the rules applicable to clinical trials.
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Ban on advertising of Ayurvedic drugs

The Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH) vide notification G.S.R. 1230(E) on December 21, 2018 has notified the Drugs and Cosmetics (Eleventh Amendment) Rules, 2018 (Amendment) ,which was subsequently published on December 24, 2018[1]. This Amendment seeks to regulate advertisements of Ayurvedic, Unani and Siddha drugs (ASU Drugs) in an attempt to curb misleading advertisements.

This step has been taken in light of the government’s reaction to the recent increase in the number of misleading advertisements relating to ASU Drugs. In 2017, the Ministry of AYUSH stated that it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), a self-regulatory organisation for the advertising industry, to monitor misleading advertisements being published in print and TV media.[2]
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Drug and Medicine Promotion and Marketing Laws in India

Unethical marketing practices have for long been a bone of contention for the Government as well as patient right groups. Time and again, the pharmaceutical industry has been accused of adopting questionable practices in relation to the marketing of their products. The main focus of attention in this respect has been suspect interactions between pharmaceutical companies and healthcare practitioners/ providers (“HCPs”). So much so that the Draft Pharmaceutical Policy,2017[1] also notes that unethical practices deployed by pharma companies is an area of concern.
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Online Pharmacy Regulations in India

The Indian Pharmaceutical industry is in its prime phase of growth today at 11-12% per year. While exports occupy a huge chunk, the country meets nearly 95% of its own domestic demands through indigenous production and the domestic retail market is growing by leaps and bounds.

Sale of drugs in India is currently governed by the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 (D&C Act) and the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945 (D&C Rules). At present, the law permits sale of drugs through brick-and-mortar pharmacies only. The law as it currently stands is somewhat out of tune with the times in that it is still to catch up with the concept of online sales of drugs.
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Drug price control has been a source of considerable agony to the pharmaceutical industry. Price caps on drugs, though flowing from a larger public interest perspective, has the power to throttle growth of the industry and limit availability of new life saving-drugs to the public at large. It is much to the chagrin of the major players and their business models. The Government has of course adopted the public comes first policy, which has also seen considerable support by the courts. Right or wrong depends on which side of the street one is on.

Price control as a measure has met with its fair share of challenges and is, as a policy issue, here to stay. Interpretation of price control regulations (DPCO) on the other hand is still a topic for many a contentious litigation before courts. The most recent one is a case where the Hon’ble Delhi High Court on July 17, 2018, passed a judgment in the case of Modi-MundiPharma Pvt. Ltd. v Union of India & Ors[1]. Here, the court opined that drugs developed through incremental innovation or a novel drug delivery system could only be included under the National List of Essential Medicines 2015 (NLEM) for the purpose of fixing the ceiling price, procurement etc. if they were explicitly listed. In other words, the court clarified on what kind of drugs are included.


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This blog piece is excerpted from a previously published article in the Express Pharma, April 16-30 Issue and addresses the patent jurisprudence and issues in the pharmaceutical industry in India.

Innovation is the root of success in the competitive world of today. Creativity manifests in new ideas and technologies. New technologies when adopted make life easy. This could not be more true than for the pharmaceutical industry. With the Indian pharmaceutical industry en route to becoming a major player in the global market by 2020, there is increased activity in terms of investments in research and development, access to world class healthcare at affordable rates for the public at large and a renewed focus on development in rural markets.

Though patent law in India has existed over the years, jurisprudence related to pharmaceutical patents is still developing. From granting product patents, to specifically identifying patentable subject matter and incorporation of provisions for compulsory licensing, the law has come a long way since its inception. A conscious effort has been made to ensure that our laws are Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) compliant while supporting a larger initiative to ensure that life saving medicines are available at affordable prices (compulsory licensing, price control etc.).

Courts in India are getting increasingly sensitive to the complex and technical issues that form the pith and substance of complex pharmaceutical patent litigation. Patent litigation turns on opinion of experts and evidence, which are often absent at the preliminary stages of litigation especially the interim injunction stage. As such the practice of passing ex-parte interim injunctions has given way to a more rational and balanced approach, wherein questions of prima facie infringement, balance of convenience and irreparable injury of the parties are weighed, analysed and rationalised along with a larger public interest perspective. The Supreme Court has time and again insisted that patent matters should be handled on an expedited basis especially where issues of public health, access to life saving drugs and commercial interests are involved and that matters should expeditiously head to trial. Courts are thankfully paying heed to this. Times are changing.


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