India: Supreme Court rejects Novartis’ plea for patent on cancer drug - ruling will enable patients to continue to buy several life-saving medicines as more affordable generic drugs

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Article
8 April 2013

India’s Patently Wise Decision

Author: Joseph E. Stiglitz & Arjun Jayadev, Project Syndicate

The Indian Supreme Court’s refusal to uphold the patent on Gleevec, the blockbuster cancer drug developed by the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis, is good news for many of those in India suffering from cancer. If other developing countries follow India’s example, it will be good news elsewhere, too: more money could be devoted to other needs, whether fighting AIDS, providing education, or making investments that enable growth and poverty reduction. But the Indian decision also means less money for the big multinational pharmaceutical companies. Not surprisingly, this has led to an overwrought response from them and their lobbyists: the ruling, they allege, destroys the incentive to innovate, and thus will deal a serious blow to public health globally. These claims are wildly overstated. Indeed, there is a growing consensus among economists that the current IP regime actually stifles innovation.

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Article
7 April 2013

Finally, the patients prevail [India]

Author: Sarah Hiddleston, The Hindu

The Supreme Court has denied Novartis a patent for its anti-cancer drug Gleevec. This leaves the door open for Indian pharmaceutical companies to produce their own versions of the drug. Since these are sold at roughly one tenth of the patented brand price, for thousands of cancer patients it means the difference between medicine and no medicine at all…It is not just cancer patients that will benefit, but millions of people dependent on medicines for survival, including those with HIV, diabetes, hepatitis and more. Had the judgement gone the other way, it would have set a precedent for other big pharmaceutical companies to simply make minor modifications to any existing medicines to receive fresh patents.

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Article
7 April 2013

More battles in store [India]

Author: Aarti Dhar, The Hindu

Well before the Supreme Court rejected Novartis’ application for patent for Glivec (Gleevec in the U.S.), drawing attention to the dichotomy of generic and patented drugs, activists have been demanding access to expensive drugs used in the treatment of cancer, hepatitis C and serious HIV. Trastuzumab is one such, used in the treatment of HER2+ type of breast cancer, which affects about one in four patients with the disease…. Kalyani Menon-Sen (women’s activist), Leena Menghaney (lawyer), and Third World Network have written to the Prime Minister, appealing that Trastuzumab be made available free to patients in government hospitals, and at affordable cost in the open market…Another group of health activists has demanded that the government either reject the patents given to hepatitis drugs or issue compulsory licences…HCV treatment is unavailable in the public healthcare system and not affordable in the private sector.

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Article
2 April 2013

The Novartis Saga: a timeline [India]

Author: The Hindu

Novartis had sought to overturn a clause in Indian Patents Law that restricts patent protection for newer forms of existing molecules. The case started in 1997 when Novartis filed a plea for a patent for Glivec...April 1, 2013: Supreme Court rejects Novartis’ plea for patent.

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Article
1 April 2013

Landmark verdict gives big boost to cancer patients [India]

Author: J. Venkatesan, The Hindu

In a ruling that will help patients continue to buy several life-saving medicines as generic drugs, the Supreme Court on Monday held that the modification of a well known cancer-fighting drug is not a patentable new invention…The judgment allows suppliers to continue making generic copies of Swiss firm Novartis’ Glivec or Gleevec, which has been shown to fight chronic blood cancer effectively. While the Novartis drug costs more than Rs 1 lakh per month, with doctors often advising patients to take it lifelong, the generic equivalents cost less than one-tenth. The ruling would be a relief to some 300,000 patients in India currently taking the drug.

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Article
1 April 2013

Supreme Court denial of Glivec patent clarifies limited intellectual property protection and discourages future innovation in India

Author: Novartis

A decision issued today by the Indian Supreme Court regarding the Novartis breakthrough medicine Glivec® (imatinib mesylate) provides clarification on Indian patent law and discourages innovative drug discovery essential to advancing medical science for patients...

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