Letter from Five Members of the European Parliament to Novartis CEO Daniel Vasella

Dr. Daniel Vasella
Novartis International AG
Schwarzwaldallee 215

9th February 2007

Dear Dr Vasella,

We are writing to you concerning the legal action being taken by your company against the Indian Government and its patent laws.

On 23rd January we held a hearing on this issue in the European Parliament in Brussels. Present at the meeting were representatives of your company and of the humanitarian organisations Médecins Sans Frontières and Oxfam. The hearing gave us the opportunity to hear and to understand both sides of the argument.

As representatives of European citizens, we want to express our grave concerns regarding your action against a government that chooses, in compliance with the Doha Declaration on TRIPS and Public Health, to interpret and implement the TRIPS Agreement “in a manner supportive of [its] right to protect public health and, in particular, to promote access to medicines for all”.

On September 29th 2005 the European Parliament adopted a Resolution which stressed the crucial role of India in providing essential medicines for the developing world, and called “on the EU to support India in further implementing its intellectual property laws in a manner that will avoid barriers to the production, marketing and export of essential medicines”.

The Indian parliament has thereby adopted a pro-public health patent law, which is crucial since India is one of the major exporters of affordable medicines to developing countries. Section 3(d) of the Indian Patent Acts, which your company is challenging, was deliberately designed to enable a patent system that allows the greatest access to medicines.

We are aware that if your legal action is successful, the consequences will be significant not only for India, but globally . We are also aware that around 10000 patent applications, including for AIDS drugs and other essential medicines are currently awaiting examination by the Indian Patent offices. Whether patents on these medicines will be granted may depend on the outcome of this case. If your company is successful India may cease to be able to export affordable medicines to the developing world.

We acknowledge the importance of patent rights. However, they must not go against the interest of millions of people who desperately need access to cheaper drugs.

For the sake of the public interest, we request you to withdraw your case against the Indian Government.

Caroline LUCAS
Dorette CORBEY
Max van den BERG

About Search Events Listserves Blogs Publications