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Monday, November 20, 2006

Ruth Dreifuss asks Novartis to withdraw its Indian patent case

Former Swiss president Ruth Dreifuss joins Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and 16 other organizations asking Novartis to withdraw its case filed in India.The challenge to India's patent law arose when an Indian patent bureau rejected an application for the Novartis cancer drug Gleevec on the grounds that the company wanted to patent a "trivial improvement". MNCs want to protect even trivial improvements , charge high prices but buy peace with NGOs by giving the medicines free or at discount. But people like Sigrid Sterckx, professor of ethics and an expert on patents at the University of Ghent in Belgium, do not agree. Read the article from asia Times Online.
Read also response from Novartis.
Rep. Henry Waxman chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, joins the debate and writes to Novartis`I do not dispute your right to apply for a patent or appeal a denial. I am concerned, however, that your attempt to influence domestic Indian law could have a severe impact on worldwide access to medicines."
Indian NGOs allege that while international support is pouring in , Indian government is considering recommendation of Mashelkar committee report advocating amendment to patent act, which could favour Novartis position.

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