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New Delhi: Although the Supreme Court’s rejection of Novarti AG’s patent claim over anti-cancer drug Glivec is regarded as a victory for the Indian generic pharmaceutical industry, it may affect the country’s bid to attract foreign investment, according to the US Chamber of Commerce.

The apex court’s ruling undermined intellectual property rights (IPR) and would have a ripple effect on foreign investment and innovation, the trade association said on Tuesday.

Disappointed at what it sees as the growing reluctance of the Indian government to enforce stricter IPR, the Chamber’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) said the verdict would affect medical advancement in the country.

“The decision against patent rights in India today will negatively impact businesses’ ability to invest in tomorrow’s medical and technological advancements," said GIPC executive vice-president Mark Elliot.

“Upholding the integrity of intellectual property rights is essential to guaranteeing future innovation not just for India, but for other countries around the world," he said. “This is especially the case in sectors, like pharmaceuticals and medical research, which require extensive up-front research and development expenses and exhaustive resources in time and manpower."

The direct impact of the verdict on sales of Glivec would be negligible for Novartis as generic variants of the drug were already available in the market.

“The long-term impact on future prospects of the company will be affected as they may not launch various new molecules in the Indian market," said Ajaykumar Sharma, associate director, pharma and biotech, Frost and Sullivan.

“Further, big pharma will now try launching their products only after they acquire patents," he said. “If that does not happen, they may opt to not launch the products or look at technology transfer to Indian companies or partners in India to manufacture and sell across developing countries. Also, the strategy to use evergreening will definitely be out of the drawing board for Indian markets."

In a study, on International Intellectual Property Index, Measuring Momentum, GIPC noted that India consistently ranked last on nearly every indicator, calling into question the country’s commitment to promoting innovation and continuing its path toward creating a knowledge-based economy.

“Unfortunately, this decision is a symptom of a much larger problem in inadequate protection of intellectual property rights in India," Elliot stated.

“The GIPC is committed to working with the Indian government and stakeholders to demonstrate how critical the integrity of India’s intellectual property climate is to future innovation, free enterprise, and the lives that depend on these advancements."

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