Updated on 1 April 2013
The verdict of the case will have far-reaching consequences for the future availability of the drugs in India. The Novartis verdict is important because it will determine whether India gets to limit patents to genuine new drugs, or whether drug companies get to "evergreen" their patents until eternity, simply by re-patenting a slightly modified version of a known substance. Western pharmaceutical companies have warned that a rejection of Novartis' application would discourage investment in research and innovation, and would hinder drugmakers' efforts to refine and improve their products.
India has come under intense scrutiny from pharma giants who say that India's 2005 Patent Act fails to guarantee the rights of pharma investors. The fact that Indian courts allowed Natco (a local drug manufacturer) to produce a generic version of Bayer's patented cancer drug Nexavar, to make the drug available to the public at an affordable price, has also made big pharma companies extremely anxious. Well, with regards to the Glivec case, Novartis will just have to keep its fingers crossed for now.