India continues to pave the way for providing cheaper generic drugs for its citizens compared to other nations which have a heavy patent system. Previously India has produced drugs for 97% less than ‘normal’ costs as well as committing to the development of generic drugs. Looking out for their citizen’s wellbeing has got them in trouble with a Swiss pharmaceutical company though.
The company took the government to court and after seven years of legal battles the court sided with the government’s goal of providing affordable health care.
Healthcare activists have called on the government to make medicines cheaper in a country where many patented drugs are too costly for most people, 40 percent of whom earn less than $1.25 a day, and where patented drugs account for under 10 percent of total drug sales.
“This appears to be the best outcome for patients in developing countries as fewer patents will be granted on existing medicines,” said Leena Menghaney, Medecins Sans Frontieres’ Access Campaign manager for India.
Over 16,000 patients in India use Glivec, the vast majority of whom receive it free of charge, Novartis says. By contrast, generic Glivec is used by more than 300,000 patients, according to industry reports.
“It’s a victory for patients who take these medicines and also for the government,” said M. Adinarayana, company secretary at Natco Pharma.