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Last Updated: Monday, 6 August 2007, 11:40 GMT 12:40 UK
India rejects Novartis challenge
Person holding handful of tablets
Novartis says patents help innovation
An Indian court has thrown out a challenge to the country's patent laws by Swiss pharmaceutical firm Novartis.

The firm wanted the law changed after its bid to patent a new version of its anti-cancer drug Glivec was rejected in April this year.

It argued the law - which bans new patents for modifications to existing drugs - broke world trade rules.

But the court in Chennai ruled it had no jurisdiction over the rules set by the World Trade Organization.

Novartis, which still has an appeal pending on the Glivec ruling, said it disagreed but would probably not appeal the decision until it saw the court's full judgement.

While Novartis has argued that the 2005 law threatens innovation, anti-poverty campaigners say that pharmaceutical companies can keep control of their drugs beyond the life of initial patents by patenting small modifications.

That, they say, means generic - and therefore cheaper - versions will take longer to get to the market.

Indian drug firms are among the world's leading manufacturers of generics, affordable by the country's poor.

"We disagree with this ruling, however we likely will not appeal to the Supreme Court," said Ranjit Shahani, vice chairman and managing director of Novartis India.

"We await the full decision to better understand the court's position."

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