Novartis calls SC ruling 'disappointing'

Last Updated: Mon, Apr 01, 2013 11:25 hrs

Swiss pharma giant Novartis on Monday said the Supreme Court's decision to dismiss its plea for patenting a cancer drug was 'disappointing'.

"We are disappointed by the decision of the Supreme Court," Ranjit Shahani, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Novartis India Limited, told media on Monday.

"We will continue to invest in India but with caution," he said.

Calling the verdict as a ´setback for patients´, Shahani in a statement said: "We brought this case because we strongly believe patents safeguard innovation and encourage medical progress, particularly for unmet medical needs. This ruling is a setback for patients that will hinder medical progress for diseases without effective treatment options."

"Novartis has never been granted an original patent for Glivec in India. We strongly believe that original innovation should be recognized in patents to encourage investment in medical innovation especially for unmet medical needs," he said.

The Supreme Court on Monday dealt a blow to Novartis by dismissing its plea for patenting a cancer drug, after a seven-year legal fight, heralding far reaching consequences for patients looking for cheaper drugs and generic drug manufacturers.

Novartis AG´s petition seeking patent protection for its cancer drug Glivec was dismissed holding that the demand for patenting was not genuine.

It has been since 2006 that Novartis had gone to court to demand patent for its amended form of cancer drug Glivec.

Novartis thus lost their seven-year-battle in the Indian court.

"The petition has been dismissed. The Indian provision Section 3-d [of Indian Patent Act] has been completely upheld and patent will allowed for only genuine inventions. Repetitive patenting with minor changes will not be allowed," said a lawyer in the case, Prathibha Singh.

She said the verdict means that whatever patents are granted are for only genuine inventions.

"With some changes you cannot get new patent. You cannot make it a new patent with some minor modifications," she said quoting from the judgement.

Indian authorities had been holding that Glivec was not a new medicine but an amended version of a known compound.

The verdict means that drug companies in India can now manufacture generic versions of the same drug and at a cost which is over 90 percent less than what Novartis was charging at Rs 1.2 lakh for a monthly dosage of Glivec for treating chronic myeloid leukaemia.

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