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Novartis Lobbies European Parliament on Patents

The Swiss firm has contacted all 785 members of the European Parliament over the past few weeks, urging them not to sign a written declaration opposing the Novartis stance on India’s 2005 patents law. Novartis is taking legal action against the law, which provides for patents on medicines to be refused on public health grounds. The firm’s lobbying efforts appear to have paid dividends. Although left-wing and Green MEPs have strenuously criticised the company, the written declaration has had far less backing from deputies in the Parliament’s largest political grouping, the centre-right European People’s Party. A written declaration becomes the assembly’s official position once a majority of MEPs have signed it. But with only 47 names secured since this declaration was opened for signature in February, it appears to be in jeopardy. The Novartis legal challenge follows the decision by Indian authorities in January not to grant it a patent on its cancer treatment Glivec. Meni Styliadou, head of European public affairs at Novartis said that the “case does not concern access to medicines”, but that it is contesting those aspects of the Indian patents system which “are currently not in compliance with international law.” The humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) regards this assertion as bogus. “Novartis is spreading confusion in the MEPs’ minds,” Alexandra Heumber, an access to medicines campaigner with MSF told IPS. “But the real issue is that Novartis does not consider public health to be a right. It has no sense of corporate responsibility.” Image source: / novartisNews selected by Covalence | Country: India | Company: Novartis | Source: Inter Press Service

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