Join our march in support of India, against Novartis

TODAY at 13:00 South African health activists, academics, medical doctors, government representatives, and lawyers will gather in Cape Town to rally against the legal case by the drug company Novartis against the government of India.

The outcome of the case will have far-reaching impacts and activists from India and South Africa speaking at the rally will explain how and why the Novartis case is crucial and what it means for patients in India and internationally who depend on affordable drug supply.

The rally is lead by Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders [MSF], the Treatment Action Campaign [TAC], Section27, and the People’s Health Movement, and is part of a larger march to mark the end of the 3rd People’s Health Assembly [July 6-July 11].

DATE: Wednesday 11 July

TIME: 13:00

LOCATION:  Cape Peninsula University of Technology parking lot (6 Keizesgracht street), Cape Town.


Borrie LaGrange, MSF SA Communication : +27 832 875 294 |,


Ever since India refused to grant a patent to Novartis for a cancer drug more than six years ago, the company has been seeking to weaken the core part of India’s patent law, the basis for the patent being rejected in the first place.

The drug, branded as Gleevec or Glivec, was rejected under ‘Section 3(d)’ of the country’s patent law, which requires new drugs to show improved therapeutic efficacy over existing ones in order to deserve a patent. This provision complies with international trade rules and is specifically designed to prevent pharmaceutical companies from abusively extending their patent monopolies for making obvious improvements to existing drugs. Novartis has taken the Indian government to court over this provision; final hearing is scheduled at the Indian Supreme Court on August 22.

A victory for Novartis will have a chilling impact on Indian-made generic pharmaceuticals. Indian is considered the “pharmacy of the developing world” because of the steady supply of generics that comes from the country – 80% of all anti-retrovirals used in Africa are Indian generics. In addition to stemming future generic production of key drugs, the court case could set a negative precedent for other countries, such as South Africa, on how to determine the grounds upon which to give patents, and to balance public health with the protection of intellectual property.

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