India’s patent case victory rattles Big Pharma

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Will India, the world’s biggest provider of low-cost generic medicines, be the pariah or the pioneer of the pharmaceutical world? There is renewed focus on this thorny question in the wake of India’s Supreme Court’s dismissal of Swiss pharma giant Novartis AG’s appeal for a patent for its cancer drug imatinib marketed as Glivec (Gleevec in the USA). Unsurprisingly, Novartis as well as lobby groups for multinational drug companies have strongly criticised the ruling, calling it a setback for patients, and one which will hinder medical progress for diseases without effective treatment options. Meanwhile, public health advocates, patients’ groups, and ordinary people within and outside India who pay for their medicines out of pocket view the Indian Court’s ruling as a game-changer.

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