Access to Medicines in Rajasthan, after Novartis Ruling


In the backdrop of the Supreme Court judgment against Novartis trying to
seek patent on its anticancer drug Gleevec used for treatment of CML and
the granting of license to pharmaceutical company Natco by the Controller
General of Patents India to produce another anti cancer drug Sorafenib used
for treatment of liver and kidney cancers at 98% lesser cost than its
innovator company Bayer under the provisions of Compulsory Licensing, a
workshop for continuing medical education of the clinicians titled *”Making
Essential Medicines Available and Affordable to All Citizens” was jointly
organized by the SMS Medical College Jaipur, Rajasthan Medical Services
Corporation, Prayas and JSA Rajasthan on Saturday, 11th May 2013 in
Jaipur.*The key note address was delivered by Prof. Ranjit Roy
Chaudhury who
currently chairs the expert committee to formulate guidelines and SOPs for
approval of new drugs, clinical trials, banning of drugs and FDCs
constituted by the MOHFW, Govt. of India. Another speaker Mr. Anand Grover,
UN Special Rapporteur on Right to Health and intervening lawyer on behalf
of the Cancer Patients Aid Association in the famous Novartis V/s Union of
India case in the Supreme Court of India spoke about the history of patent
laws and its impact on access to essential medicines in India besides the
developments which led to the Supreme Court rejecting the appeal of
Novartis. Dr. Mira Shiva of AIDAN and IHES spoke on TRIPS, WTO and global
issues relating to access to medicines. Dr. Subhash Nepaliya, Principal SMS
Medical College, Jaipur welcomed the participants. Other speakers were Dr.
Samit Sharma, Managing Director Rajasthan Medical Services Corporation and
Dr. Narendra Gupta of Prayas & JSA Rajasthan. The workshop was attended by
more than 140 persons including Dr. Virendra Singh, Supdt, SMS Hospital
Jaipur, Dr. S.D. Sharma, Supdt. Children’s Hospital, Dr. Pradeep Sharma,
Supdt Mental Hospital attached to SMS Medical College, Jaipur and large
number of other senior faculty members including medical oncologists. There
was very intense question answer session after each presentation. Most
questions raised were relating to the quality, efficacy of generic
medicines and adherence to essential medicines list.

As reported earlier, the Govt. of Rajasthan has included Imatinib Mesylate
under the Free Medicines Scheme of Rajasthan and the innovator company
Novartis had offered to provide 30 capsules of 400 mgm of it sold by it
under the brand name Glivec in Rs. 8000 which it sells in Rs. 1,23,456/- in
the market. This offer came prior to the Supreme Court judgment. But, the
RMSC floated tenders which were opened on the last Friday. Five companies
participated in the tender and offered to provide the medicine in prices as
follows:

1. United Biotech: Rs. 654.84
2. West Coast Pharma : Rs. 883.38
3. Glenmark :Rs.  902.70
4. Naprod Life Science : Rs. 1101.60
5. Cipla : Rs. 2548.62

According to a senior oncologist SMS Medical College Jaipur there are more
than 9,000 patients undergoing treatment for chronic myeloid leukemia in
the state right now and the govt. of Rajasthan is determined to make
Imatinib Mesylate available completely free for all such patients at govt.
health facilities under the Chief Minister Free Medicine Scheme. This would
certainly come as a huge relief to all these patients in terms of the cost
of treatment which they all must be bearing out of their pockets till now.

Prayas, Centre For Health Equity,
URL : www.prayaschittor.org

 

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