Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Glivec Case- Are the implications deeper then what we anticipate?

Today, every individual having an average awareness is talking about the famous Glivec case. This case is regarding a patent for an anticancer drug called Glivec developed by swiss- pharma gaint Novartis. Glivec has been denied a patent by Mumbai and Chennai High courts and now the case is appealed in Supreme Court and is awaiting a Judgment. So much is the basic understanding about this case of common man. But now the question is that when Glivec will finally be denied a patent, what will be the implications? Will it impact our economy and FDI?
Daniel Vasella who is CEO of Novartis was recently in Mumbai has declared that Novartis would now be investing $1billion in China instead of India because they feel that IP protection in India is not up to the standards. He also said that “There is a significant difference between India and China - in the political system, in the decision making processes, in the complexities of the processes and in the continuity. I think India has potential but things take longer to get done. It may come as a surprise but China has made tremendous progress in IP and is enforcing IP in pharmaceuticals.” According to Mr. Vasella IP protection is the crux of pharmaceutical investments and is fundamental to pharmaceutical business.
At this point one may argue that statistics has shown that patent filings in India are increasing every year. But when we go deep into the matter we find that majority of the patent filings are done by companies who have a business base in India but are essentially supported by foreign investment, for example Monsanto, Millipore in biotechnology sector, Sony Erricson in Electronics and so on.
Business outsourcing has been one of the important revenue and employment generators for quite some time now and I dare say that this is a good option for our country as we have ample human resources and other advantages. Apart from that CRO’s are emerging in India in a big way. So, we are definitely not in a position to lose this market.
All this makes me think that these statements made by the CEO of a pharma gaint may have far reaching consequences for our country. It may be possible that nothing comes out of it but there is also another possibility where other corporate giants may also think in the same way and bend towards China rather then India. We cannot neglect the fact that it is also emerging as a big market for outsourcing research & development activities.
As of now we can only wait for Supreme Court verdict on the case which seems to have more at stake then just a patent for an anticancer drug.


Hari Mohan said...

After going through the write up, I conducted a small study to see what's happening there behind the screens. Using one of the reputed patent search engines, the number of patents filed by Novartis (assignee) desingating India (IN) and designating China (CH) were found. To my dismay, Ruchica's assertions were true. Where, the number of patents assigned to Novartis designating India are 4803, the same count in case of China are 22248 (as on 21 Nov 2009, 10:00 AM). Novartis defintely is eyeing China (for any purpose) and it was doing that from the last many years. It's both an enlightening and interesting article. Thanks Ruchica!

Ruchica Goyal said...

Thanks for the endorsement Hari