labels: pharmaceuticals, world trade organisation, novartis
Switzerland not to take Novartis case before WTOnews
08 August 2007

Switzerland has said it would not intervene on behalf of Swis drugmaker, Novartis, which suffered a setback on Tuesday with the Madras High Court ruling against its petition challenging an Indian patent law. (See: Chennai court rejects Novartis patent challenge)

It was in May 2006 that Novartis had challenged section 3 D of the Indian Patent Act, which bars patents for minor modifications to old drug molecules. This practice is popularly known as ''evergreening'', under which the old anti-cancer drug ''imatinib mesylate'', which goes by the Glivec brand, had been refused patent extension.

Novartis sells Glivec at $2,500 per patient per month, whereas generic versions of Glivec in India cost $175 per patient per month.

Distancing itself from supporting Novartis, the Swiss government''s federal councillor in the department of economic affairs, Doris Leithard, told reporters that it was normal to have cases between private companies and governments.

"We will not be involved in a private case and will not go to the WTO over the issue. We have never done so before," Leithard told reporters, adding that potential Swiss investors would closely watch the developments arising out of the Novartis case.

She however, said, it was difficult to predict the impact of the ruling on investment plans by Swiss firms in India

India and Switzerland today signed a MoU for closer cooperation in fostering protection and promotion of Intellectual Property Rights.

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Switzerland not to take Novartis case before WTO