Chinese intellectual property laws have been overhauled to allow the nation's drug makers to make less expensive copies of medicines still under patent protection.
The move by China, considered a vital growth market for foreign pharmaceutical companies, comes within months of a similar action by India.
The amended patent law allows Beijing to issue compulsory licenses to eligible companies to produce generic versions of patented drugs during state emergencies, unusual circumstances, or in the interests of the public.
For "reasons of public health", eligible drug makers can also ask to export these medicines to other countries, including members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
"The revised version of Measures for the Compulsory Licensing for Patent Implementation came into effect from May 1, 2012," China's State Intellectual Property Office said in a faxed statement to the Reuters news agency.
China is known to be looking at Gilead Sciences Inc's Tenofovir, which is recommended by the World Health Organisation as part of a first-line cocktail treatment for AIDS patients, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
In March India granted a compulsory license to local generic drugs firm Natco Pharma to manufacture Bayer's cancer drug Nexavar, used for treating kidney and liver cancer.Read the rest at Al Jazeera
China to license copies of patented medicines