New Delhi: Poor patients will have easier access to quality medicines with the Supreme Court rejecting Swiss firm Novartis' patent plea for its cancer drug Glivec, according to domestic manufacturers.
Novartis, however, said: "This ruling is a setback for patients that will hinder medical progress for diseases without effective treatment options".
Terming the judgement as a 'landmark judgement' in favour of poor patients, domestic drug manufacturer associations, including Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA) and Indian Drug Manufacturers' Association (IDMA), hailed the apex court's decision.
"The decision of the Supreme Court will come as a relief to patients suffering from these dreadful diseases as several Indian companies, including Cipla, Ranbaxy and Natco, can continue marketing imatinib at a fraction of the cost of the Novartis product," IPA Secretary General D G Shah said in a statement.
Imatinib (Glivec) is on the National List of Essential Medicines and is an important drug in the treatment of several cancers such as certain blood and stomach cancers.
Shah further said: "This is a landmark judgement that will serve to set at rest the controversy that was raised regarding the scope of section 3(d) in the Patents Act, which is a crucial safeguard against the extension of patent monopolies of known drugs and the consequent delay in the availability of affordable generic versions."
Expressing similar sentiments, IDMA Secretary-General Daara B Patel said the order was in favour of poor patients.
"It is a good judgement. It is in favour of the country's poor patients and is in support of Indian generic companies. Though I feel sorry for Novartis but I feel happy that rules of the country have prevailed and this help the poor patients," Patel added.