Global health networks urge Novartis to end litigation on Glivec

P. T. Jyothi Datta Mumbai | Updated on November 14, 2017

Global healthcare networks of Health Action International (HAI), along with Berne Declaration, Third World Network and Knowledge Ecology International have urged Swiss drug-major Novartis to end its five-year litigation in India over its patent on blood-cancer drug Glivec.

In a joint open-letter sent recently to Novartis Chairman Dr Daniel Vasella, the health-advocacy groups also urged the company “to refrain from attempting to influence the Indian government over laws and policies that would hinder access to medicine.”

The note comes even as the Glivec-related case comes up for hearing at the Supreme Court in April. Novartis had challenged the rejection of its patent application in India.

Urging Novartis to drop the case, the note says: “Despite three consecutive patent refusals pronounced by the Indian justice authorities since 2006, the pharmaceutical giant, through an appeal to the Supreme Court in August 2009, is insistant in its attempt to challenge the Indian Patent Law.”

Novartis representatives in India were not reachable for immediate comment.

Call at global AGM

The open-letter follows a public call made by Mr Patrick Durisch, health programme Coordinator of Berne Declaration, a HAI Europe member organisation, during the Annual General Meeting of Novartis' shareholders last Tuesday.

Mr Durisch said: “The stakes go far beyond the granting of the patent for this anti-cancer drug. This action aims at weakening a public health safeguard clause — Section 3(d) of the Indian Patents Act — which limits the multiplication of abusive or useless patents on an already-known substance.”

“Without this disposition, access to affordable medicines would be threatened in most developing countries, since India is one of the primary suppliers of generic medicines worldwide, in particular in the field of HIV/AIDS,” the note quoted him as saying.


Raising further concerns over lobbying for more stringent intellectual property regulations in India, the note said, it would have a negative impact on access to medicines for disadvantaged patients and would undermine competition from generic equivalents of medicines.

Such issues are being negotiated in the framework of bilateral free-trade agreements between India and the European Union, and the European Free Trade Association, the note pointed out.

Published on March 01, 2011

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