Mumbai: Basel, Switzerland-based drug multinational Novartis AG said on Friday that it has moved the Supreme Court, challenging the denial of a patent application for its blood cancer drug Glivec.
At stake? Novartis AG’s leukaemia drug Glivec. The firm says that the clauses in the Indian patent law are not applicable to Glivec.
India’s Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) had in July rejected the company’s appeal against a Chennai patent office decision based on Sections 3(d) and 3(b) of Indian patent law.
Section 3(d) of patent law restricts patents for already known drugs unless the new claims are superior in terms of efficacy and Section 3(b) restricts patents for products that are against public interest.
Novartis said in a statement that it believes that these clauses in the patent law are not applicable to Glivec. “The beta crystal form of imatinib mesylate is the active ingredient of Glivec, and no other drug comprising imatinib was available anywhere in the world before it was launched,” its statement said.
On Section 3(b), which was evoked in the context of the drug’s price of about Rs120,000 per month, Novartis said price is not considered in any other country for patentability.
“In regard to Glivec in particular, price is irrelevant since 99% of all Glivec patients in India—currently more than 11,000 patients—have been receiving their medicine free of charge through the Glivec International Patient Assistance Programme, which Novartis began in 2002,” the company said.
Michelle Childs, director of policy at Medecins Sans Frontieres’ access to essential medicines campaign, said: “Novartis is once again attacking a key public health safeguard in India.”