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Submission + - Novatris vs India: drug patents

crazy blade writes: "Until now India has allowed pharmaceutical patents only on the manufacturing processes used to produce drugs, not on the end products themselves — a system designed to encourage companies to compete in low-cost manufacturing. However, after joining the World Trade Organization in 1995, India was ultimately forced to recently change the relevant laws, enabling pharmaceutical companies to apply for patents on any drugs created since then.

Fortunately, the new Indian law states that patents should only be granted on medicines that are truly new and innovative, not simple combinations or slightly improved formulations of existing drugs. Pharmaceutical companies are thus still not satisfied and another turning point is approaching as Novartis sues the Indian government for rejecting a patent on the cancer drug Gleevec.

As thousands of drug-related patent applications now await for approval at the Indian patent office, ironically, a number of significant high-profile patents in the US and EU are being invalidated in legal battles costing as much as $6m, after demonstrations of prior art by practitioners of ayurveda, unani and siddha, ancient Indian medical systems that date back thousands of years!

Amidst this mess, the Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) are petitioning to urge Novartis to drop their lawsuit, as such medicines are used to treat over 80% of the 80,000 AIDS patients receiving help from the organization. Millions (of lives and dollars) are at stake."

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