Day: January 30, 2007

Colonialism, Pharmaceutical style

Legal wrangle puts India’s generic drugs at risk – health – 29 January 2007 – New Scientist

Tens of thousands of people being treated for AIDS will suffer if Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis succeeds in changing India’s patent law, the humanitarian agency Medecins Sans Frontieres warned on Monday. Novartis is challenging a specific provision of India’s patent law that, if overturned, would see patents being granted far more widely, heavily restricting the availability of affordable generic medicines, MSF says.

In 2000, antiretroviral (ARV) treatment cost was estimated at $10,000 per patient annually. But the availability of generic drugs produced mainly in India, allowed costs to plummet to about $70 per patient per year, Mwangi adds.

You’ve got to love the friendly multinational arguing to make extra billions while people die. But I don’t think any Indian judge will overthrow Indian patent law. And there is a national interest  exemption built into most patent statutes, per the TRIPs agreements.