The Supreme Court has dismissed Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis AG's petition seeking patent protection for its anti-cancer drug Glivec (Imatinib mesylate).
The drug is used in the treatment of chronic myeloid leukaemia and malignant gastrointestinal stromal tumours.
An apex court bench of Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai dismissed with cost Novartis' plea challenging the Intellectual Property Appellate Board's (IPAB) decision declining the plea for patent of the drug.
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IPAB had denied the patent right for the drug in 2006. The company had in 2009 taken its challenge against a law that bans patents on newer but not radically different forms of known drugs to the Supreme Court.
Novartis AG had claimed that it is the inventor of the beta crystalline form of Imatinib mesylate.
Pronouncing the judgment, Justice Alam said that the claim was "beyond the realm of patents. In whatever way Section 3(d) of the Indian Patent Act is interpreted, Novartis cannot claim that it is a patent. It fails the test of patentability."
Upholding Section 3 (d), the court held that the amended portion of this section is only for genuine inventions.
The landmark ruling is a precedent that prevents international pharmaceutical companies from obtaining fresh patents in India on updated versions of existing drugs.
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The legal battle for the patent of the blood cancer drug is being closely watched by international pharmaceutical firms.
Novartis had been fighting a prolonged legal case for the patent of Glivec, a cost effective drug. Winning such a patent would have barred Indian firms from manufacturing generic drugs.
The bench had reserved the verdict on December 4 after marathon arguments spanning over two and half months.
A patent on the new form could have given Novartis a 20-year monopoly on the drug.
With inputs from IANS