There’s comforting news for cancer patients. The cheaper, generic version of the anti-cancer drug Glivec will continue to provide relief to them.
Swiss pharma major Novartis AG lost its case in the Madras High Court where it challenged the Indian patent law applicable to Glivec. <b1>
Novartis had sought a patent for Glivec in India, challenging its patent law which does not grant patents for modifications to old medicines, but only to drugs developed after 1995.
Glivec is a prescription drug used in the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia and gastrointestinal stromal tumours. “While Glivec costs patients Rs 1.2 lakh a month, its generic versions are available for Rs 8,000 a month.
The judgement is historic not only for India, but for the rest of the world, because India produces drugs worth $5 billion, of which 65 per cent are exported to under-developed countries, making treatment affordable to the poor,” says Yogendra Kumar Sapru, founder chairman, Cancer Patients’ Aid Association, Mumbai.
“India must be allowed to remain the ‘pharmacy of the developing world’,” says Dr Tido von Schoen-Angerer, Director of the Geneva-based Médecins Sans Frontières' Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines. “The decision makes it less likely for MNCs to get patents on evergreened medicines that the world desperately need.”
The bench, comprising Justice R Balasubramanian and Justice Prabha Sridevan, upheld the amended act, saying its objective was to “provide easy access to citizens to life-saving drugs.”