Monday’s Quick Glance: Novartis Patent Loss In India Will Affect Entire Industry


A very closely-watched Gleevec® (a blockbuster leukemia drug) patent case, long-pending in New Delhi, has been resolved.

The outcome casts an ominous shadow over non-US patent claim protections, though. Do go read the entire New York Times article, but here is the concluding bit:

. . . .Novartis had hoped that India’s adoption under international pressure of a new patent law would lead the country to grant the company an exclusive license to produce Gleevec, which can cost up $70,000 per year. Indian generic versions cost about $2,500 year.

But the court’s ruling confirmed that India’s criteria for the granting of such patents remain far higher than those in the United States, where patents are so easy to win that one was given in 1999 for a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich. Which country’s patent system does more to protect the sick and encourage invention has become an increasing source of international debate. . . .

The ruling Monday is bound to be seen with some concern by the United States and the international pharmaceutical industry and may be yet another blow to India’s standing among major multinational companies. . . .

With Merck’s focus on the emerging markets (India included, here), the implications for its over $48 billion/year global franchises are fairly obvious — as they are for Pfizer, BMS and J&J. This is, conversely, very welcome news for the true generic manufacturers like Teva, Sun, Cipla, Lupin and Dr. Reddy’s. We will — as ever, keep you posted.

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