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Novartis judgement: What it means for you

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG's plea for patent protection of its cancer drug Glivec. The Supreme Court's decision comes after a legal battle that began when Novartis was denied a patent for Glivec in 2006.
Here's what the top court's judgement means for various stakeholders:
  1. For patients: Many patented drugs are unaffordable for most of India's 1.2 billion people, 40 percent of whom earn less than Rs 70 a day. A one-month dose of Glivec costs around Rs 1.2 lakh, while generic drugs manufactured by Indian companies are priced at Rs 8,000. Poor patients will now have easier access to quality medicines. Cipla Chairman Y K Hamied said the judgement in the Novartis case is a victory for patients both in India and around the world.

  2. For MNC pharma majors: The Supreme Court has set a legal precedent which appears not to favour patents on existing drugs sold in India, a move which does not bode well for foreign firms in ongoing intellectual property disputes in India, including Pfizer Inc and Roche Holding AG, analysts say. The ruling may dampen the enthusiasm of many global firms to invest in India in the short term. MNCs are likely to want that their patents are first recognized in India before launch of a patented product.

  3. Domestic pharma firms: The move is likely to boost the prospects of Indian pharmaceutical firms over their foreign rivals. Among the chief beneficiaries of Monday's ruling will be Cipla and Natco Pharma, which already sell 'generic' Glivec in India that costs around one-tenth of the branded drug.

  4. What it means for other similar cases in courts? Pfizer's cancer drug Sutent and Roche's hepatitis C treatment Pegasys lost their patented status in India last year, decisions the companies are fighting to have reversed. The Supreme Court's ruling will make it tougher for them to win back patent protection.

  5. What it means for investors: Shares in Novartis' Indian unit fell as much as 7 per cent after the verdict, while Natco Pharma were up nearly 11 per cent and Cipla up 2.5 per cent, outperforming the benchmark Mumbai market which ticked up 0.1 per cent. Investors may prefer local pharma stocks in the short term until a clear consensus emerges.  

(With inputs from Reuters)

Story first published on: April 01, 2013 14:49 (IST)

Tags: Novartis, Cancer patent, Natco, Cipla

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