The Supreme Court has indeed passed a historic verdict by rejecting patent protection for Glivec, a cancer-fighting drug from Novartis. It will have a far-reaching impact on the prices of drugs in India, which are spiralling at their own pace. The law of patents in India, particularly the one dealing with drugs, deserves a relook as many companies are claiming huge R&D costs to demand fancy prices.
G. Prabhakara Sastry,
The Supreme Court verdict is a lesson for not only Novartis but many other drug manufacturing companies which see India as a market for making profits. The declaration by Novartis that it will no longer invest in R&D in India is amusing. Glivec was termed an “orphan drug” in the U.S., making it eligible for tax rebates equal to half of the cost of clinical testing (major cost in R&D). Its argument about access (GIPAP) is also not valid as the programme was first used to create a demand and then to pressure the governments and health organisations to reimburse the costs.
Almost all pharmaceutical medicines are produced by profit-making drug companies. It is profit that drives research and innovation. If all countries prevent the evergreening of patents, drug companies will not have the money for R&D. There will be fewer new, important drugs. What will happen if there is a new deadly infection that is resistant to existing antibiotics and you need a new drug? Will the generic companies offer one from their vault?