New Delhi: Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis, which lost its battle for patent on its cancer drug Glivec in India on Monday, said the Supreme Court's ruling discourages innovative drug discovery and is a setback for patients.
"Novartis has never been granted an original patent for Glivec in India. We strongly believe that original innovation should be recognized in patents to encourage investment in medical innovation especially for unmet medical needs," said Ranjit Shahani, Vice Chairman and Managing Director, Novartis India Limited.
Currently priced at Rs 1.2 lakh for a monthly dosage, Glivec is a major advance in treating chronic myeloid leukaemia, which kills 80-90 per cent of sufferers, and some gastrointestinal cancers. The ruling is a boost for healthcare activists who want the government to make medicines cheaper in a country where patented drugs constitute under 10 per cent of total drug sales. Drug companies in India can now roll out a generic version of the drug, which can cost about Rs 10,000 a month - slashing the price by almost 92 per cent.
Novartis said in its statement that the main concern of the company was with "India's growing non-recognition of intellectual property rights that sustain research and development for innovative medicines". It added that it strongly supports the contribution of generics to improving public health once drug patents expire.