Times Of India
MUMBAI: The Novartis cancer drug patent case has taken a new turn with an online petition urging doctors and medical professionals to boycott the multinational. The Swiss pharma giant may plan to switch hundreds of millions of dollars in planned investments from India to other locations, primarily China, in response to a court ruling, but an Indian, non-government organisation has decided to clamour for the firm’s boycott.
The Drug Action Forum, Karnataka, has initiated the online petition since Novartis continues to fight a case in the Chennai high court, though the firm lost out an earlier verdict on Section 3 (d). The forum has said that if public opinion and pressure is not brought on the company, “then this single case that is currently in the court may have long term implications on access to medicines to people all over the world”.
Novartis filed an application in 1998 at the Chennai patent office seeking the grant of patent on its anti-cancer drug Gleevec. Despite the fact that the court rejected its plea, Novartis has filed a case in the Chennai high court, stating that the India Patent Appellate Body had erred in dismissing its plea to exclude a technical member S Chandrasekaran from hearing its legal appeals.
The case has been admitted in the court and is likely to come for hearing on September 10. The company’s claim is that Chandrasekaran is prejudiced since he had earlier filed a petition on behalf of the government.
The petition urges Novartis to desist from jeopardising lives of countless poor people. Several Indian companies like NATCO, Cipla, Ranbaxy and Hetero also make and market generic equivalent of the drug.