Novartis Denies Access To Generic Medicines To Poor Countries

Posted on Friday, November 24 at 14:27 by Diogenes
The Indian legislation attacked by Novartis allows local companies to sell generic versions of the Novartis cancer drug, Glivec®. Glivec® is 10 times more expensive than its generic equivalents. The Novartis Court action will have a much wider impact on other vital drugs for developing countries such as medicines for AIDS. It will also have an impact on developing countries that import generics from India. If Novartis is successful, it could jeopardize Indias generic export industry. India is the worlds leading exporter of generic medicines, with 67% of its exports going to developing countries. According to Rolf Marti, director of the scientific secretariat of the Swiss Cancer Association: "Our objective is clear: all patients should have access to the most efficient medicines against cancer at affordable and socially acceptable prices. The behavior of Novartis in the case of Glivec® in India goes in the opposite direction. Therefore, together with other organizations we are opposing the claims from Novartis." In May 2006, Novartis took two cases to the Indian Courts to challenge a previous decision that rejected its patent application for Glivec®. This was a direct challenge to Indias right to interpret the WTO TRIPS Agreement to protect public health. In a letter to Novartis, 52 eminent personalities and organizations from all over the world demanded that Daniel Vasella, CEO of Novartis, drop these actions in the interest of public health. To this day, Novartis has yet to respond to this letter. The Novartis case calls into question Indias right to utilize the WTO TRIPS flexibilities which ensure better access to medicines for all, said Céline Charvériat, Oxfams Head of Make Trade Fair campaign. Novartis court action challenges section 3(d) of Indian patent law that defines the scope of patentability of a new form or new use of an already existing substance. This law is in line with the TRIPS flexibilities available for developing countries to use in their own national legislation. To this day, no WTO Member State has contested these flexibilities. A WHO Commission, led by Ruth Dreifuss, believed this legislation was a good way to implement TRIPS flexibilities. If Novartis challenge against the Indian patent law is successful, a key safeguard that can ensure the production of affordable medicines will be lost, said Ellen t Hoen, Policy Director at MSFs Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines. People the world over who rely on India as a source of their medicines may be affected if Novartis gets its way. Contact For more information, please contact: Julien Reinhard, Déclaration de Berne, Tel : +41 (0)76 327 67 41 Romain Benicchio, Oxfam International, Tel : +41 (0)79 79 79 990 Notes to Editors The pictures of the Novartis action and the open letter to Novartis are available on the Bern Declaration site. The email action calling Novartis to withdraw its legal case is available on the Make Trade Fair website. (recieved via email)

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