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India Keeps Right To Patent Act

Trade and Industry Minister Anand Sharma said India would renege drug patents if eruptions of serious diseases or pandemics made it essential, defending a Supreme Court ruling against Swiss drug firm Novartis. The apex court dealt an impact to Western drug-makers on April 1 when it threw out Novartis' attempt to win patent protection for cancer drug Glivec and create a benchmark for intellectual property cases in a country where galore patented drugs are unaffordable for most of the population of 1.2 billion. Addressing during a visit to the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva, Sharma said the court decision was "perfectly justified" under the intellectual property rules of the World Trade Organization, famed as the TRIPS agreement. The government had never exercised its enforcement right to force a company to form its drugs available inexpensively, but engaged its right to do so, he said. "What is good, to permit people to die or to make the medicine accessible? That's the bigger question," he said. "So far it's in the sphere of conjecture, but it is an adaptability that has been go through and integral into the TRIPS agreement. "This is a flexibility that is given to countries under law," he said. Developed countries had used the straight to mandatory licensing more than 160 times, considering more than 63 times by the administration route, he said, and there was no reason why developing countries could not form cheap medicines acquirable in response to an epidemic or a life menacing disease. "I cannot be a phenomenon teller. I cannot determine for tomorrow whether some new difficulty of avian flu will come or whether there will be some other pandemic that will require intercession of the state." Novartis had "utterly no reason to complain" to the government because its case was not decided by the authorities and the court had acted independently, he said. He refused that the Glivec decision would impact research and development investment into India. "I don't see that it's going to be deterring the internationals from investing in R&D," he said, adding that India, as an origin of so much intellectual property, had an curiosity in protecting it.

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