Reportedly, the Supreme Court which has been hearing arguments in the Novartis matter since September 11, 2012, has asked Novartis to reduce the price of Glivec, the drug used to treat Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) which currently costs around INR 1.2 Lakh for a month’s treatment.
The Supreme appears to have asked Novartis’s counsel Mr.Gopal Subramanium if the company would continue its programme for subsidized access to the drug if the patent on crystalline form of imatinib mesylate were to be granted.
This question was asked despite the Supreme Court acknowledging that Novartis had no legal obligation to continue the subsidized access programme. Apparently, the Apex Court urged Novartis to slash prices to earn the goodwill of the people and establish it bonafides.
In response to this suggestion by the Court, Novartis seems to have stated the following in its affidavit:
“In the event of patent being granted to petitioner, Novartis in India, undertakes to continue this programme till July 2018 and subject to there being no further regulatory price control/direction in relation to said (Glivec) product.”
According to Health India, Novartis submitted to the Court that the number of patients afflicted with CML in India is 41,794, out of which 15,690 have been prescribed the use of Glivec. Out of these 15,690 patients, Glivec was being made available free of cost to 15,155 patients, 370 were being supplied the drug at a subsidized price and only 165 bought the drug at the full price.