Indian campaigners say Novartis' win in landmark drug patent case would be 'death sentence' for poo
London, Aug 22 (ANI): Health campaigners in India have warned that granting Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis an Indian patent for the cancer drug Glivec would mean handing down a 'death sentence' for the poor and ill in the developing world.
The Supreme Court of India would be hearing the landmark drug patent case between the Swiss firm and India's patent office, which could have a huge impact on the health sector of the country, and could also decide whether cut-price generic drugs for cancer and other serious ailments will continue to be available in much of the developing world.
Campaigners have argued that victory for Novartis could result in the deaths of thousands of people who will no longer be able to afford the drugs they need.
"It would quite simply be a death sentence for us. I am quite sure that if Novartis wins, other multinationals will follow suit and other drugs will become prohibitively expensive," The Guardian quoted Vikas Ahuja, as saying, who was diagnosed with HIV in 1993 and is now the President of the Delhi Network of Positive People.
The long-running case, which resumes in Delhi on this week, sees Novartis seeking an Indian patent for its leukaemia drug imatinib mesylate, which has been patented as 'Glivec' in nearly 40 countries including China, Russia, Mexico, Taiwan, Germany and the UK, and as 'Gleevec' in the United States.
According to Ranjit Shahani, the Vice-Chairman and Managing Director of Novartis India, the legal move by the company is "about protecting intellectual property to advance the practice of medicine, not about changing access to medicines".
Earlier, the patent office in India had refused to grant a patent for Novartis' cancer drug Glivec, because it said that it is not a new medicine but a changed version of a known compound.
Currently, India makes one-fifth of the world's generics, such as antiretroviral medicines used to treat HIV and Aids, from which about half are sent abroad, mostly to other developing countries, the paper said. (ANI)
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