Wednesday, April 3, 2013

U.S. industry reviews Supreme Court decision on Novartis

WASHINGTON, April 3, 2013 PTI

The US industry on Wednesday said it is reviewing the order of the Supreme Court early this week that denied patent on Glivec, a cancer medication produced by Swiss drug maker Novartis, as Corporate America expressed dismay at the court verdict.

"We are aware of the Supreme Court decision and are reviewing the Court's order," the U.S. Trade Representative spokesperson Andrea Mead told PTI.

"We look forward to continued engagement and successful collaboration with India on these issues," Mead said when asked on the U.S. position on the Supreme Court decision.

The US India Business Council (USIBC) expressed its unease over the Supreme Court on denying a patent on Glivec and said that this would impact innovation and investment climate in India as a time when the country needs foreign direct investment the most.

"Innovation requires the reward and protection of intellectual property. We are certain India's leadership understands this, and that creating and maintaining an environment that inspires and enables innovation is in India's ultimate, long-term interest.

"Such an environment is crucial if India is to attract investment in this or other highly complex sectors," USIBC President Ron Somers said, expressing his disappointment over the court order.

The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) in a statement expressed disappointed with the Indian Supreme Court's decision to deny a patent on Glivec.

PhRMA is Washington-based lobbying group for brand-name manufacturers, which benefit from patents that create monopolies.

"This decision marks yet another example of the deteriorating innovation environment in India. Innovation is critical in meeting unmet needs of patients and is particularly relevant in the context of changing healthcare systems," said PhRMA President and CEO John Castellani.

In order to solve the real health challenges of India's patients, it is critically important that India promote a policy environment that supports continued research and development of new medicines for the health of patients in India and worldwide, he argued.

"Protecting intellectual property is fundamental to the discovery of new medicines. The research-based pharmaceutical industry is committed to working closely with the Indian Government and other stakeholders to find appropriate solutions to this challenge," Castellani said.

Roger Bate, a global health expert at Washington-based think tank American Enterprise Institute, said as a result of the Supreme Court order, Indians will receive lower-quality copies of Glivec and other drugs, and are less likely to receive cutting-edge products in the future.

"Meanwhile, patients in countries that import Indian drugs have lost a key tool in ensuring the quality of the medicine they are prescribed," he said.

"India currently exports more pharmaceutical products to the US than any other emerging market, and its drugs have consistently had quality-control problems. The latest is atorvastatin-generic Lipitor made by Ranbaxy-which was found late last year to contain glass particles," Bate said.

"The quality and consistency of India's drugs could be enhanced by foreign investment through infrastructure funding, technology transfers and changes in management culture. Yet nothing halts foreign investment faster than uncertain rules over intellectual property," he said.

However, Doctors Without Borders/Mcins Sans Frontis (MSF) termed it as a landmark decision by the Indian Supreme Court.

"This is a huge relief for the millions of patients and doctors in developing countries who depend on affordable medicines from India, and for treatment providers like MSF," said Unni Karunakara, MSF's international president.

"The Supreme Court's decision now makes patents on the medicines that we desperately need less likely. This marks the strongest possible signal to Novartis and other multinational pharmaceutical companies that they should stop seeking to attack the Indian patent law," Karunakara said.
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