Union minister for health and family welfare Anbumani Ramadoss is urging Novartis AG to end its challenge to the Indian patent law as it might affect supply of affordable anti-AIDS drugs.
“We will like to urge Novartis to desist from this and withdraw (the litigation),” said Ramadoss. In an implicit threat, he said India so far had “never broken a patent by issuing a compulsory licence and the government shouldn’t be forced into it.”
Compulsory licensing is an option under which countries can allow manufacturers to copy a patented drug for national interest. Novartis is challenging the denial of a patent to its cancer drug, which is not related to any AIDS drugs. Some fear that if Novartis prevails, other drugs sold in cheaper generic versions will also end up being protected by such patents. Novartis said its stance remained unchanged. “Our legal action in India will in no way impact access to medicines to poor countries. This is about safeguarding incentives for better medicines.”