India: Novartis challenges patent law - seeks extended protection for cancer drug, saying "patents save lives"; NGOs say move threatens affordable essential medicines

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Article
30 January 2007

Many lives at risk if drug company wins court case

Author: Arthur Okwemba, Daily Nation [Kenya]

The cost of essential drugs could soon rise substantially, if a pharmaceutical giant [Novartis] wins a court case [in India] against patents that allow production of generics... A ruling in favour of the company will have far-reaching effects on HIV antiretroviral (ARV) drugs and other essential medicines commonly used in Kenya, and most of the developing world... “Our lives are at stake. If Novartis wins this case, we will roll back the gains made in access to cheap medicines. The company and other drug manufacturers should not put patents and profits before lives,” says Ms Monique Wanjala, who has lived with HIV for 13 years.

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Article
29 January 2007

Novartis challenges India's patent law

Author: Matthew Allen, swissinfo

A court case brought by Swiss drugs giant Novartis in India could define how the industry distributes discount medicine to the developing world while maintaining profits... "We are deeply convinced that patents save lives. If the patent law is undermined the way it is happening in India, there will be no more investment into the discovery of lifesaving drugs," said Novartis head of corporate research Paul Herrling. The company has insisted it will continue to offer Gleevec free to patients in India who cannot afford it. Watchdog groups such as Médicins sans Frontières, however, say generic competition has dramatically reduced the cost of Aids drugs. They have launched a petition against Novartis while hundreds of activists protested in the streets of the Indian capital, New Delhi.

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Article
29 January 2007

Quarter of a Million People Urge Novartis To Drop Case Against India

Author: Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders

As pharmaceutical company Novartis proceeded with its legal challenge against the Indian government in a court hearing in Chennai, India, today, nearly a quarter of a million people from over 150 countries expressed their concern about the negative impact the company's actions could have on access to medicines in developing countries... "Novartis is trying to shut down the pharmacy of the developing world," said Dr. Unni Karunakara, medical director of MSF's Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines...

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Article
18 January 2007

Investor Letter to Novartis on India Patent Case

Author: Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility [USA]

In a letter to Novartis Chief Executive Officer Dr. Daniel Vasella, Members and Associates of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) today urged Novartis to withdraw a legal challenge to Section 3(d) of the Indian Patent Act, in a case concerning the patent status of the cancer drug Gleevac...The case has implications for millions of patients reliant on generic anti-AIDS medicines produced in India.

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Article
1 November 2006

[DOC] Statement by Novartis [see para. 4 for comments regarding lawsuit brought in India]

Author: Novartis

In...India, Novartis provides Glivec totally free of charge to …99% of all patients receiving the medicine...Worldwide to…more than 17,000 patients…[T]he generic versions of Glivec in India are priced at approximately 4.5 times the average annual income...Helping patients and promoting access begins with developing new and innovative medicines …and the best way to encourage innovation is by respecting intellectual property.

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