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HINDUSTAN TIMES, ECONOMIC TIMES(India)NEW YORK TIMES (USA)

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NEW DELHI — In a landmark decision on Monday, India’s Supreme Court rejected a application by pharmaceutical giant Novartis for a major cancer drug patent, a ruling that could clear the way for cheaper generic versions of medicines to continue to be distributed around the world, the Hindustan Times reported.

After a seven-year legal battle, Indian drug makers can now proceed with continued production of generic knock-offs of the anti-leukemia drug Gleevec — also spelled Glivec in Europe, the New York Times reported. Gleevec can cost up $70,000 per year, while Indian generic versions cost about $2,500.

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Photo: Esme Vos

The battle has pitted a capitalist imperative to profit from innovation against a basic right to lifesaving medication at affordable prices.

YK Hamied, chairman of Cipla, one of the Indian generic drug makers told the Economic Times that the case was "nothing personal" against the Swiss-based Novartis. "I only hope that this type of verdict will help the country get cancer drugs at affordable prices and it is actually a victory for patients and for access to medicines at affordable prices."

The reverberations of the ruling could extend well beyond Indian leukemia patients, helping India continue as the world’s most important provider of cheap medicines, which is critical in the global fight against HIV/AIDS and other diseases, the Times reports.

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