National Council of SJM in Indore (Madhya Pradesh)
27, 28 April 2013
Statement of Swadeshi Jagran Manch, on the occasion of National Council Meeting on the issue of recent judgement of Supreme Court on patents and affordable medicines
The Swadeshi Jagran Manch while acknowledging the complete vindication of its stand regarding Section 3 (d) of the Indian Patents Act, and the proviso therein in the Novartis case and while being glad that the Hon’ble Supreme Court has upheld it’s stand that the Novartis claim to the protection of Glivec an essential drug for the treatment of cancer needs to be rejected, is however disconcerted by the Supreme Court not conclusively deciding on the issue of the need to interpret Section 3 (d) by reading the provision for allowing the production of generic variations of drugs whose patent period have expired but for whom the multinational patent owner wants to maximise its profit by extending the patent protection period by adding qualities which do not enhance the efficacy of the drug.
However the Hon’ble Supreme Court has lost the opportunity to decide the matter once and for all by deciding the case on facts. The SJM recognises that there may be further mischief by multinational pharmaceutical companies and states that it is important that all forces which are keen to ensure that medicine in the country is kept at affordable prices continue the battle and be vigilant about developments in the future.
For a country like India, expensive western style health care is not sustainable. It is a country where the majority of the people cannot afford to have access to expensive medicine and life saving drugs which are so costly that it is out of the reach of the common man. It is essential that life saving drugs and other medicine be made available to the middle class and the poor at a price at which they can afford. Therefore it is important that generic drugs be made widely available in the market. The attempt of Multi National Pharmaceutical Industries attempt to extend patents of its “block buster” drugs by attempting to evergreen the drugs in the name of incremental research has to be fought both politically and legally and on all forums. Needless to say that the war is not over with the present Novartis judgment, it is neither the beginning of the end of the war, it is in many ways the end of the beginning. There is a long way to go.
SJM therefore also welcomes the Supreme Court initiative to ensure that the government notifies drugs which are essential and therefore would fall outside the patent pricing regime. The SJM deprecates the attempt of the drug companies to suggest that such pricing of essential drugs be made on market pricing basis, when such an interpretation would be inherently against the spirit of the TRIPPS exception for essential drugs, besides being against the right to life enshrined under our Constitution as expounded by the Hon’ble Supreme Court. SJM says that it will commence it’s struggle against the arbitrary market based pricing methodology which is being suggested by the government at the behest of multinational pharmaceutical companies, because it would result in the benefits of the people being deprived of the right to have essential, affordable medicinal drugs as part of their right to life.