AGENCIES, TUESDAY, JANUARY 30, 2007
WASHINGTON: Non-governmental groups have tried to deliver a mini coffin to Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Novartis to protest legal action aiming to overturn a ban on a drug patent application in India.
The groups said India's ability to manufacture low cost generic versions of newer medicines would be threatened if Norvatis won the suit.
Novartis's application for a patent for its Glivec cancer drug was rejected by the Indian patent office in January 2006, but the company is appealing that decision in the High Court.
A dozen activists from non-governmental groups attempted yesterday to deliver a golden miniature coffin at a Novartis downtown office in Washington but were turned away, said David Bryden of Global AIDS Alliance.
"The coffin was meant for Novartis chief executive Daniel Vasella," he said.
In front of the Novartis office, the activists slumped to the ground and shouted, "Patient rights, not patent rights" and "Novartis greed kills people in need; Drop the case now."
The gesture symbolised the "fatal consequence" of Novartis' action for people dependent on India for generic medications, Bryden said.
"People with HIV around the world depend on India for generic equivalents of antiretrovirals," the main treatment for HIV-AIDS, said Asia Russell of Health GAP, a US-based AIDS and human rights activist group.
Generic Indian antiretrovirals are reportedly used for about half of all HIV treatment in poor countries.