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Supreme Court decision on Novartis "historic": Sharma

Last Updated: Monday, April 1, 2013 - 21:10

New Delhi: Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma Monday described the Supreme Court judgement rejecting Novartis AG plea for its cancer drug as "historic" and said Indian Patent Law conforms fully with global obligations under the WTO IPR pact - TRIPS.

"It is a historic judgement which reaffirms the position of the Indian law and in particular, provisions of Section 3 D which mandates the need for a substantive innovation while deciding on a case for grant of a fresh patent," a Commerce Ministry statement quoted Sharma as saying.

The WTO's Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement is an attempt to narrow the gaps in the way these rights are protected around the world, and to bring them under common international rules.

TRIPS stand for Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights and Public Health.

"Indian Patent Law is fully in conformity with our international obligations under the TRIPS agreement," Sharma said.

Swiss pharma major Novartis AG on Monday lost a seven-year long legal battle for getting its blood cancer drug Glivec patented in India and to restrain Indian companies from manufacturing generic drugs, with the Supreme Court rejecting the multinational company's plea.

This will help poor patients to have easier access to quality medicines. While a one-month dose of Glivec costs around Rs 1.2 lakh, generic drugs, manufactured by Indian companies, for the same period are priced at Rs 8,000.

TRIPS, among other things, establishes minimum levels of protection that each government has to give to the intellectual property of fellow WTO members.

Later in the day, Novartis India Ltd Vice-Chairman and Managing Director Ranjit Shahani said the company will not invest on research and development in India and move R&D to favourable destinations following the apex court's order.

He said, however, the company will continue to introduce products in the country, file patent applications for innovative products and continue to invest in India "but cautiously".

Reacting to the statement, Sharma said: "I do not agree with that (Novartis reaction)... That's their approach. Investment in this country must not be affected and...

"We welcome investment, we welcome R&D. At the same time, affordable healthcare to ensure the availability of life-saving medicines at costs which are affordable is also absolutely essential."

India is still a developing country and a large number of poor people are there who are in need of intervention and medication, he added.


First Published: Monday, April 1, 2013 - 20:38
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