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Earlier this week, the Supreme Court of India which rejected the patent application of Novartis for their cancer drug Glivec. The Supreme Court of India agreed with the Patent office of India that the new patent is NOT a new innovation and was just a tweak of the expired patent and an attempt at "evergreening"

The drug costs $2200/month for user today while generic drugs were available for as little as $180/month.


In Monday’s decision, India’s Supreme Court ruled that the patent that Novartis sought for Gleevec did not represent a true invention. The ruling is something of an anomaly. Passed under international pressure, India’s 2005 patent law for the first time allowed for patents on medicines, but only for drugs discovered after 1995. In 1993, Novartis patented a version of Gleevec that it later abandoned in development, but the Indian judges ruled that the early and later versions were not different enough for the later one to merit a separate patent.

After initially stating that Novartis will stop R&D in India, they backtracked and stated yesterday that Novartis will continue to invest in R&D in India, though cautiously. Funny, a few days ago, Novartis warned India that it will stop delivery of drugs (not just R&D) if the case wasn't decided in their favor. Their threats didn't work.

Will such pro-middle class activism rub off in the United States? After Novartis, it is the turn of Merck to start a battle on 'evergreening' diabetic drugs.

More media coverage below the fold

Update 1: I searched for Gleevac Medicare reimbursement rates - $45,000/year. In India, generic alternatives costs Rs 5000 - 9000 (1 USD = 54 Rupees), about $90 - $160/month or $1080 - $1920/Year. Why US citizens have to pay 22x for a product based on 'evergreening strategy' is beyond me.


In a decisive victory for India’s pharmaceutical industry, India’s Supreme Court rejected Novartis’ patent application for the cancer drug Glivec on Monday, ending a seven-year battle by the Swiss drugmaker to get a patent in India on its powerful leukemia drug. The medication, which was approved for use in the U.S. back in 2001, has been produced generically by Indian pharmaceuticals for years at a fraction of the Swiss drug’s cost. The Indian drug industry’s victory, however, is being described as a stunning defeat for intellectual-property rights and may have repercussions on India’s attempts to attract foreign investment.
The case began when India first rejected Novartis's patent application in 2006 for Glivec, known in the U.S. as Gleevec. The legal fight has been a closely watched struggle highlighting the tensions between public-health interests and intellectual-property rights. The court's decision, viewed alongside other recent patent setbacks in India for companies such as Bayer AG and Roche Holding AG, underscores the hurdles multinational drug companies face as they try to crack India's fast-growing market

Chicago Tribunal:

The Indian government hailed as "historic" a Supreme Court ruling on Monday against a plea by Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG to protect the patent on its drug Glivec. Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said the ruling -- seen as a victory by health rights campaigners -- reaffirmed provisions in Indian law that mandate the need for substantial innovation before new patents are issued on medicines.
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