Generic drug trade wins big after court refuses cancer medicine patent


The Supreme Court in India has left the door open for the generic drug trade to manufacture cheap versions of groundbreaking drugs. The court today rejected a patent application from Novartis, the world’s second-largest drug manufacturer, for the breakthrough leukemia drug Glivec. It ruled that Novartis’ new drug represents only a “minor tweak to an existing drug” whose patent has expired, echoing critics’ complaints that the manufacturer was attempting to exploit a loophole to squeeze more money out of the medicine. The practice of making minor changes to drugs to extend their patents — known in the industry as “evergreening” — was effectively outlawed in 2005 by Indian lawmakers, and today’s decision solidified that ruling.


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