Swiss drug maker Novartis, fighting the patent laws in India, today told the Supreme Court that its cancer drug `Glivec' has demonstrated improved efficacy in the treatment of cancer, which warrants it patent protection.
The drug giant is engaged in a legal battle over a part of the Indian patent law (section 3d), which states that a new form of a known medicine can only be patented if it shows significantly improved therapeutic efficacy over existing compounds.
This provision has been added to the patent law in order to discourage drug makers from 'evergreening' their patent monopolies through cosmetic changes to known drug formulations.
Novartis moved the Supreme Court after the Indian patent office refused to give Glivec a patent on the grounds that the drug was not a new molecule but an amended version of a known compound.
The Supreme Court today started final hearings on the case filed by Novartis in 2006, challenging this clause of the Indian Patents Act.
"We are giving something new to the patients," Gopal Subramanium, counsel for Novartis, told the Supreme Court.