People before patents
The Swiss pharma company Novartis filed two cases challenging the rejection of their patent application and the Indian Patent Law in May 2006. Novartis was one of the 39 companies that took the South African government to court five years ago, in an effort to overturn the country's medicines act that was designed to bring drug prices down, including AIDS medication.
Novartis denies access to generic medicines to poor countries
India produces affordable medicines that are vital to many people living in developing countries, says the Geneva based humanitarian medical aid organisation Médecins sans frontières (MSF) Switzerland. “Over half the medicines currently used for AIDS treatment in developing countries come from India and such medicines are used to treat over 80% of the 80,000 AIDS patients in MSF projects.”
If Novartis is successful in its challenge against the Indian government and its patent law, millions of people around the world who depend on medicines produced in India could be affected. Charity organisations and personalities called upon Novartis to withdraw its legal action against the Indian Patent Act.
Urge to protect public health
In India, which has 5.7 million infected people, hundreds of HIV-positive protesters gathered in New Delhi demanding from the government to provide second-line AIDS drugs free to those who have developed resistance to first-line HIV medication. According to the WHO, 30% of the world's population still do not have regular access to essential medicines. 74% of AIDS medicines are still under monopoly (under patents). The director of the Global Fund Richard Feachem informed that "a very rough estimate might suggest that today across the developing world 2 million people are receiving treatment while 7 million people require treatment".
- Indian supreme court delivers verdict in Novartis case
Article on the Médecins sans Frontières homepage
- Novartis denies access to generic medicines to poor countries
Press Release of the Berne Declaration, 23 November 2006
- NGOs and personalities demand that Novartis withdraws legal actions in India
Press Release of the Berne Declaration, 12 October 2006
- Swiss platform HIV/AIDS international cooperation aidsfocus.ch