|Leading policy-makers and scholars explain how market forces, deregulation, and consumer choice can work to improve health care for all Americans.||
India and the Drug Patent Wars
In 2005, India joined the TRIPs treaty, under an agreement requiring that patents be provided for drugs made after 1995. However, under an obscure provision of India's patent law, Novartis' application for a patent for an updated version of its cancer drug Gleevec has been denied and is currently under appeal.
Bate argues that the outcome of Novartis' case may determine the future of pharmaceutical innovation in India's burgeoning pharmaceutical sector.
Novartis is no villain keeping the poor from receiving needed drugs. Rather, Indian patent law is what constricts India's drug market. India's patent hurdles discourage drug companies from operating there, innovating, and working on diseases unique to India. The subcontinent has severe problems with dengue fever and leishmaniasis, yet there is no cure for dengue and no inexpensive cure for leishmaniasis. None of the research on dengue or leishmaniasis is done in India, and no Indian drug company produces the medicines to cure leishmaniasisa horrid disease known as "Baghdad Boil" by the unfortunate U.S. troops who have contracted it. Ironically, it is Novartis that leads the world in research for a cure for dengue.
We agree with Bate that global pharmaceutical innovation requires strong international protection of intellectual property rights. At the same time, companies have to find innovative ways of licensing their products in the poorest nations, to ensure global access to critical medicines.
For a different perspective on Novartis' case, see this article from the New England Journal of Medicine.
|home spotlight commentary research events news about contact links archives|