Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Intellectual property rights vs Profit protection right ??

Knowledge@Wharton : Patent Controversy Resumes as Indian Supreme Court Rejects Novartis’ Glivec Claim

This is not at all an 'intellectual property rights' vs 'affordability' case as its being painted all over but really a simpler case on extension of patent beyond its original period. The drug in question was awarded patent long back for its innovation at that time and Novartis has reaped all the benefits of exclusivity awarded by the patent regime - even in India.

Now, when the patent is about to expire, the company management in order to retain its large pharma status (and of course profits) make inconsequential changes to the manufacturing process (to simplify: say replace cane sugar in lemonade with equivalent amount of corn sugar) and call it a new innovation and demand patent over it. The so called innovation does not impact the efficacy of the drug and is just a physical modification made only to "evergreen" the patent. The driver of such practice is not at all any innovation but is really monopolistic practices to make huge profits.

Unfortunately, most countries like USA does not recognize this ever-greening as a monopolistic malpractice and its only Indian patent law which disallows such practice. Indian courts just upheld the law of the land to reject the patent application of Novartis which did not brought any real innovation.

Even more unfortunate is that globally India is maligned now to be stealing intellectual property. The lobby groups of big pharma (who thrive on a fraction of profits made by companies through such monopolistic practices) are going hitter titter calling names to India and its courts. Some groups are supporting the cause for the benefits it serve to poor around the world by generally reducing the cost of such drugs by ~95%-97% (imagine the profit margin of big pharma). But benefit to poor is only a consequence of the law and its not any robin hood philosophy behind it.

The intellectuals of the world should debate if the intellectual property rights are really about protecting ingenuity or profits ?