Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma has termed as “historic’’ the Supreme Court’s judgement rejecting Swiss pharma major Novartis’ plea for a patent on an improved version of its anti-cancer drug Glivec.
The Minister has affirmed that the country’s patent law is in full conformity with its international obligations under the TRIPS Agreement.
“It is a historic judgment. It reaffirms the position of Indian law and, in particular, provisions of Section 3D which mandates the need for a substantive innovation while deciding on a case for grant of a fresh patent,” Sharma said in an official statement to the media.
The Indian Patent Act is fully in conformity with our international obligations under TRIPS, the Minister added.
The Swiss company has lost a seven-year battle in the Indian courts where it challenged Section 3D of the Patents Act, 1970, which disallows patents on new forms of existing medicines, on the basis of which it had been denied a patent for its anti-cancer drug Glivec.
“The judgement is significant as it sends out a strong message to the world that while we respect international agreements, we also have a responsibility towards the poor and will not support any measure to extend patents beyond their normal lives,” an official in the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion told Business Line.
Novartis does not have a patent for Glivec in the Indian market as it was introduced here before India adopted its new patent regime. However, since the new version of Glivec is just a small improvement over the older version, India has rejected Novartis’ patent application.