Letter from Novartis to Members of the European Parliament
2 March 2007
Dear xxxxx (member of the European parliament)
A group of MEPs has tabled a Written Declaration seeking actions from the
EU institutions to persuade Novartis to drop its legal action against the
Indian Government regarding the patentability of its beakthrough cancer
treatment, Glivec. Their central arguments is that our actions would deny
access to medicines to the poor. This is fundamental misunderstanding of
We would like to request you not to sign this Written Declaration for the
- The legal case does not concern access to medicines. On the
contrary, 99% of the Indian patients who take Glivec (circa 6,600 patients
in total) receive it from Novartis for free. Worldwide, Novartis is
donating Glivec at no cost to approximately 19,000 patients in 80
- Our legal action in India does not undermine the provision that
allow access to medicines. Novartis only challenges those provisions of
Indian Patent Law which are not currently in compliance with international
law. Novartis fully supports the TRIPs conditions that promote access to
medicines for developing countries and the Doha declaration.
- Our legal case has no impact on pending patent applications for
new HIV treatments. Most new HIV treatments are now compounds, thus
falling completely outside the scope of the current dispute.
- The case also concerns the conflicting interests of Indian generic
manufacturers and the innovative pharmaceutical industry. Indian generic
manufacturers target the middle income populations but not the "real
poor". In India, the generic version of Glivec costs 4.5 times the average
- A strong patent law is in the interest of India. One third of
pending patent applications for pharmaceuticals comes from Indian
pharmaceutical firms. Indian companies have a strong interest in having
patents for incremental innovations and they have publicly supported our
- Novartis contests strongly that our case undermines the supply of
affordable medicines to the developing world. Indian generic companies
focus on the developed world and India; only 8% of their sales goes to the
developing world outside India. By contrast, the innovative pharmaceutical
industry treats 716,000 HIV patients in the developing world.
- Novartis is deeply concerned that patients have access to
medicines. In 2006, our access to medicines program reached 33.6 million
patients. Novartis spent USD 755 million last year alone. Public private
partnerships can play an important part. Novartis is committed to explore
the issue of access to medicines. But, any solution must be sustainable.
Generics and the demise of the patent system is not a viable solution in
the long term.
- As the world’s second largest manufacturer of generic medicines,
Novartis understands and recognizes the contribution of generics once drug
patents expire; our concern is with the non-recognition of intellectual
property rights that ultimately advance pharmaceutical research and
development for better medicines so that patients needs will be met in the
We attach a position paper which explain these issues in more detail.
Head of European Public Affairs, a.i