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+ - Drug patents threatening cheap medicines to poor

Submitted by
GillBates0
GillBates0 writes "The BBC is reporting that a recent court challenge to India's patent laws by pharmaceutical giant Novartis may cut the supply of affordable medicines to treat AIDS and other epidemics in the developing world. Based on the rejection of it's patent on a drug, Novartis is arguing that India's requirement for drugs to be "new and innovative" is not in line with the WTO TRIPS (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) Agreement that India is party to. India came to be called the "pharmacy of the world's poor" since it stopped issuing patents for medicines in 1970 allowing its many drug producers to create generic copies of medicines still patent-protected in other countries — at a fraction of the price charged by Western drug firms. In 2005, however, it changed it's patent laws to comply with international regulations. NGOs including Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and Oxfam say that if Novartis succeeds, pharmaceutical firms will be able to put newer AIDS treatments based on existing drugs under patent protection in India, preventing cheap generic versions being exported to Africa and elsewhere. In 2005, Slashdot carried a story about efforts to put India's ancient traditional medicine and Yoga online, so as to make it visible as public domain to patent examiners. More recently, Slashdot carried a similar story about Tiwan's decision to violate Roche's patent on a bird flu drug for the benefit of it's people."

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