Generic drug trade wins big after court refuses cancer medicine patent

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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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