Novartis Defends Challenge To Indian Medicines Patent Law

Pharmaceutical company Novartis “has spoken out following criticism about its challenge to India’s patent laws, insisting that access to life-saving drugs is not under peril by the move,” Pharma Times World News reports. The case, which the Indian Supreme Court is scheduled to hear next month, challenges “Indian patent law, notably Section 3(d), which states that a modification of a known chemical composition is non-patentable,” the news service writes.

According to Novartis, currently available generic medicines, including HIV/AIDS medications, made in India prior to 2005, when the country began granting patents, “will continue to be available under a grandfather clause [whereby an old rule continues to apply] in the Indian patent law regardless of the legal outcome of our case,” Pharma Times writes. The international aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres, along with several other groups, is urging Novartis to drop its challenge to the law, the news service notes (Grogan, 2/27).