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It is official: India is siding with poor cancer patients over profits for multinational drug giants.

The Supreme Court of India has rejected a plea by Swiss pharma giant Novartis that ends the seven-year legal battle to restrict Indian companies from copying blood cancer drug Glivec.  Novartis had filed a plea with the Supreme Court after the Intellectual Property Appellate Board had rejected a patent claim for Glivec.

Glivec is marketed as Gleevec in the United States.  In 2001, Time magazine called it the magic bullet for cancer patients. The drug was originally developed as Imatinib using rational drug design after Philadelphia chromosome mutation was discovered.

In India, Glivec costs about 120,000 rupees for a one month dose.  In contrast, generic copies by Indian companies cost about 8,000 rupees, or about $148 at current exchange rates.

The decision is being hailed by activists and has major implications for multinational pharmaceutical firms.  The decision opens the door for Indian companies to continue to make generics of a large number of drugs that are under patent in the developed world.

The decision is also a big setback for the ever-greening strategy employed by big pharma.  In this strategy, big pharma makes minor changes to extend patents.

Lately, American investors have shown irrational exuberance about pharmaceutical stocks.  Pharmaceutical stocks have been one of the best performing groups.

Bulls on pharmaceutical stocks cite two reasons behind their analysis…Read more at Forbes

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