Novartis’ Indian Patent Law Challenge Postponed Again

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The Supreme Court of India has postponed until late August hearing final arguments in a key challenge to India’s patent law brought by Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis.

The case, Novartis v. Government of India, was due to start on 10 July, but has been rescheduled for 22 August, according to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). The postponement was requested by Novartis’ lawyers, who said their main counsel could not be available, MSF said. The case had previously been postponed to July (IPW, Public Health, 28 March 2012).

Novartis started its challenge in 2006, raising questions about Section 3(d) of the 2005 Indian Patent Law. The case challenges India’s implementation of the World Trade Organization Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), specifically Section 3(d), which is intended to prevent “evergreening” of patents, in which patents are granted on minor modifications of existing patented products. Novartis filed the case in national courts after rejection of a patent application on its product marketed as Gleevec.

“Should Novartis win, patents would be granted far more broadly in India, blocking the competition among multiple producers that drives prices down, and restricting access to affordable medicines for millions in India and across the developing world,” MSF said.

An MSF Q&A on the Novartis case is here.

On 21 August, the legal appeal against India’s grant of a compulsory licence on Bayer anti-cancer drug Nexavar drug (IPW, Public Health, 12 March 2012) is scheduled to be heard before the Intellectual Property Appellate Board in Chennai, MSF said.

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