Novartis loses patent case for its anti-cancer drug “Glivec” in India

Novartis AG – The Swiss drug maker’s 7-year fight to win an Indian patent for its megahit anti-cancer drug “Glivec” finished with the Supreme court dismissing the company’s appeal.

What was the ruling given by the Supreme Court?

 

The Supreme Court ruled that the Novartis’s application for patent on the beta-crystalline salt didn’t meet any standard of novelty or inventiveness as the product “beta crystalline” was known prior to 1995 through an earlier patent Novartis held, and therefore the company can’t be given any patent for this drug.

Background:

  • The case over patents for” Glivec” reached the courts when India refused patent for it in 2006 as the drug wasn’t considered a new molecule, but an altered version of one that had already been in the market for around 15 years.
  • Novartis also challenged India’s interpretation of section 3 (d), relating to what constitutes a new molecule.
  • The section 3(d) ensures that companies don’t extend patents by merely modifying an already existing drug without any resultant changes in therapeutic effects.

This judgement by Supreme Court has indeed given lucidness on the so-called practice of evergreening and incremental innovation gernerally adopted by pharmaceutical companies in order to retain patents.

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