Sunday, April 7, 2013

Just because companies make drugs, should they aspire to less profits than a firm that makes trendy electronic goods?

by Narayan Ramachandran for Live Mint
For complete article, click here:

The story of the Supreme Court turning down Novartis’s patent petition for a new and improved Glivec is well known. Less known is that the decision, made on the basis of Section 3(d) of the Indian patent law, is really a technical ruling rejecting the new and improved idea. A patient sympathizer would say the improved notion was merely an attempt by the company to evergreen the drug by extending the patent regime and keeping out generics for longer. A patent sympathizer would say the improved version was truly a more efficacious drug; how is a company to innovate if it cannot protect its innovation? Precisely how a court of law was able to adjudicate on such a technical matter (reasonable experts may well differ) is not clear, but the ruling is binding.
The fight is really about the future. It is about how different the future of the pharmaceutical industry will be from its past. It is about the pricing of drugs. It is about how governments will go about balancing patent and patient in a world in which the gap between rich and poor is wide (both within a country and internationally). Could we have a different price for inner city Washington DC, Kenya and India from that in the developed markets? Should the full impact of that differential be borne by the pharmaceutical company or also by the chain of stakeholders—rich consumers, insurance companies and governments? 

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