India’s Supreme Court Rejects Novartis’s Claim Citing Responsibility toward the Developing World

On 1 April India’s supreme court rejected Novartis AG’s request to patent a new version of Gleevec, a cancer treatment drug, taking into account the “commitment to protect and promote public health considerations, not only of its own people but in many other parts of the world (particularly in the Developing Countries and the Least Developed Countries).” (para. 66).

According to the court, the relevant amendments to the Indian Patent Act introduced in 2005 reflected the fact that the Indian parliament was “keenly alive to national interests, human rights considerations and the role of India as the producer and supplier of drugs to different parts of the world where impoverished humanity is critically in need of those drugs at cheap and affordable prices.” (para. 79) The Act sought to ensure, “while fulfilling its commitment under the TRIPS agreement,” that it will not create “a patent regime where all the gains achieved by the Indian pharmaceutical industry are dissipated and large sections of Indians and people in other parts of the world are left at the mercy of giant multinational pharmaceutical companies.” (id.).


For Professor Fredrick M. Abbott’s analysis of this judgment see