The reaction to Novartis being denied a patent for one of its cancer drugs by India's Supreme Court prompted widely different reactions from key groups.
Patient groups and India's generic manufacturers, which form a $26 billion industry in supplying drugs to much of the under-developed world, were happy.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the non-profit organization which serves some of the world's poorest people in very challenging situations, was also quite happy.
The Washington-based lobbying group for brand-name manufacturers, which benefit from patents that create monopolies, was not happy at all.
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) President and CEO John Castellani issued the following statement:
"PhRMA is very disappointed with the Indian Supreme Court's decision to deny a patent on Glivec. This decision marks yet another example of the deteriorating innovation environment in India. Innovation is critical in meeting unmet needs of patients and is particularly relevant in the context of changing healthcare systems. In order to solve the real health challenges of India's patients, it is critically important that India promote a policy environment that supports continued research and development of new medicines for the health of patients in India and worldwide. Protecting intellectual property is fundamental to the discovery of new medicines. The research-based pharmaceutical industry is committed to working closely with the Indian Government and other stakeholders to find appropriate solutions to this challenge."
A link to the PhRMA statement is here.
Conversely, MSF not only applauded the "landmark" decision, but urged more to be done to lower drug costs for the organizations serving patients in war-torn and woebegone places.
"This is a huge relief for the millions of patients and doctors in developing countries who depend on affordable medicines from India, and for treatment providers like MSF," MSF's international president Dr. Unni Karunakara said in a statement. "The Supreme Court's decision now makes patents on the medicines that we desperately need less likely. This marks the strongest possible signal to Novartis and other multinational pharmaceutical companies that they should stop seeking to attack the Indian patent law."
A link to the MSF statement is here.