Sabato, 20 Ottobre 2018

India's supreme court rules for cheaper cancer drugs


(By Sandra Cordon)
New Delhi, April 1 - India's Supreme Court
rejected a bid from Swiss pharmaceuticals group Novartis to
patent a cancer drug in a ruling Monday that critics say will
help generic companies to make important medicines cheaper.
Novartis was attempting to patent Glivec, a treatment for
chronic myeloid leukemia.
Instead, India's generic drug industry will be permitted to
continue producing less expensive versions of the drug.
The company complained that the court ruling "discourages
the search for innovative medicines, essential for the
advancement of medical science in the service of patients".
It added that the ruling is a "setback" for patients
because it could keep big drug companies from researching new
options to treat disease.
However, health advocates say the ruling will actually
make it easier for generic companies to produce alternatives to
the expensive Swiss drug now used by 16, 000 cancer patients in
A month's supply of Novartis' Glivec costs approximately
$1,900, compared to generic versions by Indian pharmaceutical
producers that run around $175.
India's 2005 patent law sets a high threshold for granting
the patents, especially for updated versions of existing drugs.
The Indian law states that if a drug company wants to
patent a modified version of an existing patented drug, it must
show the new drug is more effective.
The Glivec case is part of a worldwide trend that has seen
governments in numerous emerging countries struggle to make
low-cost pharmaceuticals available to their citizens.
For example, in 2011 Brazil began distributing in so-called
"popular pharmacies" certain medicines for diabetes and
The pharmacies are owned and operated by the state and,
according to the national health department, have cut as much as
90% off the price of some medications.
Many pharmaceutical companies have also seen their patent
protections expire in several countries in recent years, opening
up more markets to generic competitors.
That has driven many brand-name companies to push harder
for expansion in growing economies such as India and China.
Some experts and economists say that emerging markets are
becoming especially important to pharmaceutical companies
because their populations are continuing to boom.
In contrast, the markets are not only saturated in Europe
and North America, but population growth is much smaller there.
The populations may be ageing and require more drugs, but
that isn't enough to keep pharmaceutical companies growing,
experts say.

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