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Indian court dismisses Novartis patent claim

Published on 08/08/07 at 03:27pm

Novartis has failed in its challenge to India's intellectual property laws as part of its attempt to secure a patent for Glivec in the country.

The company took the Indian government to court over its 2005 Patents Act, claiming it breached World Trade Organisation rules and the Indian constitution.

The High Court in Chennai has deferred to the WTO to resolve the question of compliance with its rules, but dismissed Novartis' petition challenging the constitutionality of the decision not to grant a patent for Glivec.

Novartis said the decision would have "long-term negative consequences for research and development into better medicines for patients in India and abroad".

Novartis India's vice-chairman and managing director Ranjit Shahani said: "We disagree with this ruling; however, we likely will not appeal to the Supreme Court."

Campaigners welcomed the court's decision as a major victory for patient access to affordable medicines in developing countries.

The country is home to some of the world's biggest producers of generics - as well as one of pharma's fastest growing markets - and Medecins Sans Frontieres said the ruling protected India as the pharmacy of the developing world.

Director of the MSF Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines Dr Tido von Schoen-Angerer said: "This is a huge relief for millions of patients and doctors in developing countries who depend on affordable medicines from India.

"The court's decision now makes Indian patents on the medicines that we desperately need less likely."

Novartis provides the cancer drug Glivec free of charge to 99% of patients in India and said its court challenge would not have hindered the supply of medicines from India to poor countries.

 

 

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