India & Access

  • by: |
  • 04/03/2013

The biggest canard surrounding the Indian Supreme Court’s refusal to grant Novartis a patent for Gleevec is that it will create “access.”

Let’s put the rhetoric aside and look at the facts.

1- The Government of India ranks below sub-Saharan Africa and near the bottom of all 170+ countries included in the WHO World Medicines Report in terms of GDP spend on publicly funded drug programs that serve vulnerable populations.

2- India is one of the few countries in the world that collects more on taxes and tariffs for medicines than it spends on providing medicines to the poor.  Broad analysis for 2011 indicates that total annual government expenditure on drugs in India was around $1.15B in comparison to the $1.22B it received in taxation of pharmaceuticals.

3- CIPLA, an Indian generic company that was part of the Gleevec patent case, has nearly $300 million in unpaid fines for overcharging for essential medicines in India.

Make no mistake – the Novartis case wasn’t about access. It was (and is) about domestic industrial policy.

Who will India is send to BIO this year? And how will they address the concerns of jittery investors and prospective partners?


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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