15 February 2007

Patents: Novartis Litigation in India

A report by Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen in today's Intellectual Property Watch on Novartis's challenge to Indian patent legislation on the ground that it doers not comply with TRIPs is reminiscent of the challenge by the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of South Africa to South Africa's compulsory licensing laws. That challenge was abandoned at the door of the court as a result of co-ordinated political pressure around the world and there are signs of similar pressure building up on Novartis.

Significantly, much of that pressure is coming from South Africa. A press release of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance quotes Archbishop Desmond Tutu: ""People, not profits, must be at the centre of patent law for medicines." Although the case revolves around a cancer drug it does have a bearing on aids in that countries in Sub-Saharan Africa with no pharmaceutical industry of their own rely on imports of generic drugs from India and that these would be at risk were the Novartis challenge to succeed.

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