All eyes on India’s drug patent case

This week, India’s highest court will hear final arguments in a landmark case that could severely limit access to affordable medicine. The Swiss pharmaceutical company, Novartis, took the government of India to court after it denied the company a patent for a modified version of an existing cancer drug. This process, known as evergreening, is clever way to extend a drug’s patent life by tweaking it before its patent expires. You would think these minor tweaks would result in a superior drug capable of curing all ills or, at the very least, improve the existing formulation. But, in all too many cases, evergreening doesn’t result in enhanced benefits, though it certainly deepens Big Pharma’s pockets. And of course we all know they’re cash strapped. Stephanie Nolen of the Globe and Mail reports here.

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