In this battle to make sustainable healthcare more accessible, it is great to hear yet another group of passionate people who advocate equal rights. Novartis International AG, a Swiss-based pharmaceutical company is pitching for exclusive patents rights on the drug Glivec in India. While the drug shows potential for cancer treatment, exclusive patent rights for a private organization undoubtedly translates into millions of people being deprived of this provision.
Being a member of the World Trade Organization, India imposes a strict patent law to avoid second-party transaction monopolies on medicines. While Glivec is sold for $40.46 by Novartis, the generic drug can be sold for $3.28. On average, 1300 people die on cancer every day in India, and thus access to medicine is a necessity.
In a situation like this, it is important to voice the ideology of affordable medicine for all and prevent the system from breaking under the influence of powerful private organizations. Such a step was taken when in an open letter to Novartis, the representatives of Doctors without Borders plead Novartis to “focus on innovation and not take actions that reduce access to essential medicines.” With the actions of spreading awareness and learning about the implications that supply of generic drugs have on lives of people, especially within the developing world will go a longer way to making medicines affordable for all.
With court proceedings running for over a decade, the Indian Court System ruled against evergreening the sale of Glivec for Novartis in 2013. The decision was widely accepted by global organizations including the World Health Organization and Doctors Without Borders who highlighted the benefits of the ruling for millions of people in poverty.
As students from Canada, a country with universal healthcare system, we can understand the importance of having access to medication. Being a member of the access committee in UAEM Western Club and through this blog, I want to highlight this one global issue and see how we as Western students can work to carry the philosophy forward.
To learn more about similar global issues, you can visit the following sites: http://www.msf.ca/en/article/stop-threatening-access-affordable-medicines-millions
http://www.msf.ca/en/access-medicines http://www.forbes.com/sites/judystone/2016/11/13/new-pharma-rankings-on-glob al-access-to-medicine/#3e1050402123
Written by: Janhavi Patel
Janhavi is currently in her second year of undergraduate studies at Western University and serves as one of UAEM Western's Report Card Leaders.