The All India Physicians Association national president A. Muruganathan said here that the Supreme Court’s verdict rejecting Novartis’ plea for patent on cancer drugs would be a big boon for the poor considering that India is a ‘hub for generic drugs.’
“We have been supplying generic drugs for HIV/AIDS and other diseases to international agencies/bodies like UNICEF which, in turn, have been giving the same to millions of poor across the globe free-of-cost,” he said.
The association members, comprising doctors specialised in various disciplines of medicine, were of the view that if the patent had been given to any company for disease-specific drugs, it would allow the said company 20 years of manufacturing and marketing exclusivity resulting in the escalation of treatment costs.
“The Novartis’ drugs, which is meant for fighting chronic blood cancer, costs more than Rs. 1 lakh a month whereas the generic drug will cost only Rs 8,000 a month. With the blood cancer drugs need to be taken life-long, it would have been difficult for poor patients to afford it if the patent has been accorded,” Dr. Muruganathan said.
The judgment would prevent anyone from attempting to monopolise costly life-saving drugs, he added.
The Indian Medical Association has welcomed the Supreme Court judgment against Novartis.In a statement in Coimbatore, L.P. Thangavelu, State president of IMA, said the judgment would enable promotion of generic life saving drugs in India.
“As India is capable of producing affordable high quality medicines without much assistance from drug makers overseas, it is important that physicians prescribe generic drugs so as to boost production of inexpensive life saving drugs in the country,” said Dr. Thangavelu.