On April 1, 2013, the Supreme Court of India finalized the denial of Novartis’ patent on its cancer drug Glivec, despite the fact the patent is recognized in 40 countries. The lay press and public interest groups have centered the debate on pricing. The Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance disagrees.
“India must not be afraid of multinationals. The recent judgment by SC is not about pricing, affordability or access. Instead, it is about the interpretation and provisions in the patent law [the court decided that making small changes to an existing patented drug are not worthy of a new patent]. India must make it clear the decision in the Novartis case has been taken independently by the judiciary.”
Now Mark Elliot of the Global Intellectual Property Center of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has responded, in effect warning India and the rest of the world that the ramifications of denying intellectual property protection to rightful inventors will stifle innovation endanger public health.
Elliot, too, dismissed pricing as problem:
“Novartis, like many innovative companies, offers programs under which medicines are subsidized or even given free. In the case of Glivec, 95% of the patients prescribed in India received the dosages free of cost and the remaining 5% were receiving it subsidized.”
Not surprisingly, Elliot cites statistics compiled the Pharmaceutical Research Manufacturers of America; “[to bring] a single life-saving treatment to market, and to patients, requires $1.3 billion in investment and 10-15 years of research and development.” How would a company in the private sector justify such an expense without the limited monopoly protections inherent in patents?
“With the proper IP rights in place, and the appropriate protection of these rights, global innovative companies will have the incentive necessary to operate in India and explore its endless business opportunities. Stronger IP protections create jobs, stimulate economic growth, and promote innovation of new technologies across industries, in addition to fostering public health. From biotech to software to textiles, the protection of IP benefits all.”