Novartis was just denied a patent for Gleevec, a cancer drug, in India. This wasn't because they doubt the efficacy of the drug. It was to protect their right to manufacture generic versions.
India’s Supreme Court has rejected a bid from Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis AG to patent an updated version of its cancer drug Gleevec (known as Glivec in Europe).
Patents allow companies to block competitors from making and selling the same product. The ruling means that Novartis can’t stop drug makers in India from manufacturing generic versions of Gleevec, which cost much less than the original.
This is not an unusual occurrence these days. Worldwide, oncologists and medical professionals are pressuring Big Pharma to drop their prices on cancer treatment drugs.
“Advocating for lower drug prices is a necessity to save the lives of patients who cannot afford them,” the physicians write in Blood, the journal of the American Society of Hematology. Since many specialize in chronic myeloid leukemia, which is a deadly blood cancer, they cited Gleevec, a best-selling medication marketed by Novartis.