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

FDI in Brownfield Pharma – Will COVID-19 be the catalyst for policy reforms

The pharma sector has gained renewed global attention due to the crisis brought about by COVID-19, a pandemic having an unprecedented impact on health and wellbeing of citizens across geographical boundaries. It is estimated that around 76 pharma companies across the world are in a race to develop and mass-produce an effective vaccine in the fight against COVID-19[1]. Indian pharma companies too are playing a vital role in this search.[2] The Indian pharmaceutical industry has responded to the rapid challenges arising from disruption in supply chains and is working in an integrated manner to drive local expertise by production and export of essential formulation to countries across the globe, and live up to its title as the ‘Pharmacy of the World’.
Continue Reading FDI in Brownfield Pharma – Will COVID-19 be the Catalyst for Policy Reforms?

Patent Licensing in times of Covid-19 Pandemic

The entire world has been grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic for some time now, and efforts are on to find a treatment protocol and vaccine. Several drugs and treatment therapies are being tried and tested to find a cure for this pandemic. In the middle of this fervent R&D activity, some questions come to mind — what about IP protection? How would companies commercialise a cure — if and when it is finally found? How would the cure be available to the public en-masse at affordable prices? Enter patent law and the aspect of Licencing.
Continue Reading To Protect or Not to Protect that is the Question : Patent Licensing in times of Covid-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 TEST KITS. A CHEAT SHEET

The COVID-19 pandemic has literally brought the world to a standstill. Large scale infections have resulted in lockdowns across the globe. At this critical juncture, testing continues to remain the most important step to get a grip over the situation. The situation in India is no different. With an upsurge in the number of COVID-19 cases in India, the need for largesse testing has become paramount. Low availability of test kits remains a cause of great concern to the government and healthcare practitioners. This is compounded by our massive populace, given the quantity that is required in the current scenario. This lack of availability of test kits is primarily because India does not have adequate indigenous manufacturing units of COVID-19 test kits and relies heavily on imported kits.

From a regulatory standpoint, such kits fall under the category of ‘in-vitro diagnostic’ kits under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940 (D&C Act) read with the Medical Devices Rules, 2017 (MD Rules) and are regulated as ‘medical devices’[1].
Continue Reading COVID-19 Test Kits. A Cheat Sheet

DIAL-A-DOCTOR-A-look-at-the-Telemedicine-Practice-Guidelines-2020

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (“MoHFW”), on March 25, 2020, issued the Telemedicine Practice Guidelines (“Guidelines”) providing Registered Medical Practitioners (“RMPs”) with guidelines to treat patients remotely by using the telemedicine tools at their disposal.

Concepts such as telemedicine have gained prominence pursuant to the rapid development of information technology and the need to service the requirements of patients who may not be able to visit healthcare facilities, or have little to no access to the same. Such services involve the transfer of medical information and expertise through telecommunication and computer technologies and aim to facilitate diagnosis, treatment and management of patients. Currently, in India, platforms such as ‘practo’ and ‘DocOnline’ exist which facilitate online medical consultations albeit in a restricted manner given stringent regulatory controls on the practice of medicine. Though such platforms would help to deliver widespread healthcare services, there exist several concerns that exist about the medicolegal implications of telemedicine relating to registration, licensing, insurance, quality, privacy and confidentiality issues, as well as other risks associated with electronic health care communication.
Continue Reading DIAL A DOCTOR- A look at the Telemedicine Practice Guidelines, 2020

COVID-19 - A lot done, more needs to be done

With the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring Coronavirus or COVID-19 a pandemic, it is now essential that countries and organisations that have the ability to find solutions come together, share information as much as possible and work together across borders. Already, experts are worried that the impact of Covid-19 may surpass that of the 2008 global downturn. Till date, globally, nearly 4,71,417 people have tested positive and approximately 21,295 have lost their lives to the deadly virus. On the date of drafting this article, the number of COVID-19 positive cases in India had crossed 700 (seven hundred), with 14 (fourteen) people succumbing to the disease. India is now under a full government ordered 21-day lockdown. A cure remains elusive till date. But in the words of famous author Louisa May Alcott, ‘Be comforted, dear soul! There is always light behind the clouds’. And it is this light that India needs to focus on in order to secure a future that survives the present.
Continue Reading COVID-19: A lot done, more needs to be done  

NCOVID-19: From detection to a cure, A regulatory overview

COVID-19 is the latest pandemic after cholera, the bubonic plague, smallpox, NIPAH, ZIKA and influenza-SARS, etc., to have accosted the world. A more aggressive variant of human coronaviruses that cause upper-respiratory tract illnesses, COVID-19 is a new disease, caused by a novel (or new) coronavirus that had hitherto not been seen in humans. The virus, having originated in China, has crossed borders and resulted in global lockdown. The race to find speedy detection and cure has begun at a feverish pace. Meanwhile, more than 300 Indians have already been diagnosed as COVID-19 positive. Six have succumbed to the disease.
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The National Medical Commission Act, 2019. Community Health Providers

This blog post is part of a multi-part series. Our previous posts 1, 2 covered the salient features of the National Medical Commission Act, 2019 (NMC Act) where we highlighted some issues arising out of the same.

The NMC Act has some interesting aspects that relate to Community Health Providers (CHPs). We attempt to shed some light on this proposal.

Community Health Providers

The NMC Act, under Section 32(1) provides for granting of a limited license, “to practice medicine at mid-level as Community Health Provider to such person connected with modern scientific medical profession who qualify such criteria as may be specified by the regulations”. However, it also clarifies that the limited license granted under Section 32(1) shall not exceed one-third of the total number of licensed medical practitioners. Secondly, the scope of practice of CHPs has been limited and they can prescribe specified medicine independently, only in primary and preventive healthcare[1]. It has been clarified that in any situation other than primary and preventive healthcare, they may provide medicines only under the supervision of medical practitioners.
Continue Reading The National Medical Commission Act, 2019. Community Health Providers: Legitimate or Not

National Medical Commission Act 2019 - Part 2

This blog post is a part of a multi-part series. In the first part, we had written about the salient features of the National Medical Commission Act, 2019 (NMC Act) and the regime proposed by it. In this part, we will analyse some of the contentious issues in relation to the NMC Act.

Independence of Autonomous Boards:

The NMC Act has made provisions for the constitution of 4 (four) autonomous boards, namely, the Under-Graduate Medical Education Board; the Post-Graduate Medical Education Board; the Medical Assessment and Rating Board; and the Ethics and Medical Registration Board (Boards). However, in terms of Section 16(1) of the NMC Act, these “autonomous” Boards will remain under the overall supervision of the National Medical Commission (NMC). Section 16(2) of the NMC Act further provides that each of the abovementioned Boards shall be an autonomous body, however, in the same breath, it also dictates that these Boards shall carry out their functions subject to regulations made by the NMC. Furthermore, the Central Government has been entrusted with the responsibility of appointing the President and Members of these Boards on the recommendation of a ‘Search Committee’, which itself is comprised majorly of Central Government appointees. In terms of Section 23(1) of the NMC Act, the presidents of the Boards have been allowed only such administrative and financial powers, “as may be delegated” by the NMC.
Continue Reading The National Medical Commission Act, 2019. A Look : Part 2

Introduction to the Biodiversity Act of India

India is known to the world for its diversified biological resources. Arising out of its obligations as a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity held at Rio de Janerio in 1992, and “to provide for conservation of Biological Diversity, sustainable use of its components and fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of biological resources and knowledge”, the Biological Diversity Act, 2002 (BD Act) was enacted by India to regulate access to, and use of, its biological resources.

In essence, the BD Act mandates approvals from the National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) and to inform State Biodiversity Authorities (SBAs) for people to access and use biological resources, or knowledge associated thereto, for research purposes, commercial utilisation, bio-survey and bio-utilisation, for applying intellectual property or for transferring results of research.
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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].


Continue Reading Over The Counter Drugs – Regulatory Clarity on the Horizon