ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Global Relevance of India's Pharmaceutical Patent Laws

The recent decision in the Novartis Glivec case continues a long-established tradition of India contesting a Northern agenda on patent laws. This key global role, arising from the exceptional combination of a vibrant domestic pharmaceutical industry with civil society awareness of the public health implications of patents, has been accentuated by recent developments and has continued relevance for the global South.

Denied on the grounds of not having met the standard of efficacy required by Section 3(d) of the 2005 Patent Act, the 1 April 2013 Supreme Court dismissal of the Novartis appeal against the earlier rejection of its patent application for Glivec, an anti-cancer medication, has attracted global attention (e g, Biswas 2013; Chatterjee 2013; The New York Times 2013). In a recent commentary in this journal, Sudip Chaudhuri (2013) has outlined some of the broader implications of the decision, including the linking of the question of patenting with net benefits to society and consideration of the specific conditions of a country.

Here, I argue that the recent pharmaceutical patent law decision continues a long-established tradition of India playing a key global role in contesting a Northern agenda on patent laws. This influence extends well beyond the Indian pharmaceutical industry’s monetary value or immediate geographic location, and arises from the combination of a vibrant domestic industry with civil society awareness of the public health implications of patents.

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