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[e-drug] MSF Statement on Novartis Court Ruling in India

E-DRUG: MSF Statement on Novartis Court Ruling in India
[Congrats to India, MSF and the 420,000 people who signed the petition to
"drop the case!" WB]

Indian Court Ruling in Novartis Case Protects India as the ‘Pharmacy of the
Developing World’

New Delhi/Geneva,6 August 2007 – The landmark decision by the High Court in
Chennai to uphold India’s Patents Act in the face of the challenge by Swiss
pharmaceutical company Novartis is a major victory for patients’ access to
affordable medicines in developing countries, the international medical
humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) stated today.

“This is a huge relief for millions of patients and doctors in developing
countries who depend on affordable medicines from India,” said Dr. Tido von
Schoen-Angerer, Director of the MSF Campaign for Access to Essential
Medicines. “The Court’s decision now makes Indian patents on the medicines
that we desperately need less likely. We call upon multinational drug
companies and wealthy countries to leave the Indian Patents Act alone and
stop pushing for ever stricter patent regimes in developing countries.

Novartis took the Indian government to court over its 2005 Patents Act
because it wanted a more extensive granting of patent protection for its
products than offered by the law. Novartis claimed that India’s Patents Act
did not meet rules set down by the World Trade Organization and was in
violation of the Indian constitution. Apparently all of Novartis’s claims
have been rejected by the High Court today.

India only began giving patents on medicines to comply with WTO rules, but
it designed its law with safeguards so that patents can only be granted for
real innovations. This means that companies seeking a patent for
modifications to a molecule already invented, in order to extend ever
further their monopolies on existing drugs, would be unsuccessful in India.
It is this aspect of the law that Novartis was seeking to have removed. A
ruling in favour of the company would have drastically restricted the
production of affordable medicines in India that are crucial for the
treatment of diseases throughout the developing world.

Developing country governments and international agencies like UNICEF and
the Clinton Foundation rely heavily on importing affordable drugs from
India, and 84% of the antiretrovirals that MSF prescribes to its patients
worldwide come from Indian generic companies.  India must be allowed to
remain the ‘pharmacy of the developing world.’

Over 420,000 people worldwide signed a petition requesting Novartis to drop
the case because of the devastating impact Novartis’s actions could have on
access to essential medicines.  Among them were the Indian Health Minister
Anbumani Ramadoss, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Global Fund Director Michel
Kazatchkine, members from the European Parliament and the US Congress,
former Swiss President Ruth Dreifuss, former UN Special Envoy for AIDS in
Africa Stephen Lewis, German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, 
Norwegian Development Minister Erik Solheim, as well as authors John Le Carré 
and Naomi Klein.

India: Leena Menghaney, MSF +
Switzerland: Sheila Shettle, MSF + + 41.22.849.8403

Sheila Shettle
Senior Communications Officer
Médecins Sans Frontières
Campaign for Access to Essential Medicines
Rue de Lausanne 78
1211 Geneva, Switzerland
+ 41.22.849.8403
+ (m.)

Millions of people around the world today rely on affordable medicines
produced in India.  Pharmaceutical company Novartis is taking the Indian
government to court to force a change in the country's patent law.  If
Novartis wins, a major source of affordable medicines for millions of people
across the globe could dry up.

MSF is urging Novartis to DROP THE CASE.

Find out more and sign up to our petition:

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