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Last Updated : Sep 06, 2011 09:40 PM IST | Source: PTI

SC judge recuses from hearing Novartis patent plea

A Supreme Court judge today recused himself from hearing Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG'S patent plea for its key cancer drug Glivec following media reports that he had attended international conferences organised by a body with which the company was associated.


A Supreme Court judge today recused himself from hearing Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG'S patent plea for its key cancer drug Glivec following media reports that he had attended international conferences organised by a body with which the company was associated.


Justice Dalveer Bhandari, who is heading the bench before which the case was listed for hearing, refused to hear the case in the wake of media reports saying that health activists have asked the Centre to seek his recusal.


According to media reports, the health activists wrote to the government alleging that Justice Bhandari had participated in at least two international conferences for judges organized by the US-based Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPOA), whose members include Novartis, among a host of pharmaceutical and IT giants.


The Swiss company approached the Supreme Court challenging the patent rejection of its cancer drug Glivec by the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB). The Board had said that the company had failed to satisfy the efficacy requirements under Section 3(d) of the Indian Patent Act, and its high price was judged to be against public order.


Section 3(d) says that new forms of known drugs are not patentable, unless they demonstrate significantly enhanced efficacy over existing molecules.


Section 3(b) holds that patents cannot be granted to an invention, the primary or intended use or commercial exploitation of which could be contrary to public order, or morality, or which causes serious prejudices to human, animal
or plant life. Glivec costs Rs 1.2 lakh per month, against the generic
versions that cost Rs 11,000.


Novartis in 2003 had obtained an exclusive marketing right (EMR) for the drug based on its patent application.


The EMR meant that generic versions of Glivec were stopped from being manufactured. Later, the patent application was rejected in 2006 by the Chennai Patent Office on several grounds, including Section 3 (d), which says that new forms of known drugs will not be patented unless they demonstrate enhanced efficacy over existing products.



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First Published on Sep 6, 2011 09:36 pm
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