Irvine, CA–The pharmaceutical company Novartis is appealing a decision by an Indian court not to grant it a patent on a modified form of its leukemia drug, Gleevac. If Novartis prevails, Indian companies could be banned from manufacturing a cheaper, generic version of the drug used widely in the developing world. In response, some groups have accused Novartis of attempting to “deny access” by poor people to life-saving drugs.
“If Novartis has created something deserving of a patent, the Indian government should uphold and protect Novartis’s patent rights,” said Dr. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute. “No one has the right to expropriate Novartis’s intellectual property. Morally, it is Novartis’ creation and it alone should decide the terms of the drug’s manufacture and sale and how the company will obtain maximum benefit from its invention.
“The fact that people are sick and need a drug does not entitle them to it. They must pay for it or rely on charity not plunder the very companies their lives depend on–note that Novartis itself has been donating drugs. While no one wants to see patients go without life-saving treatments, it is a gross injustice to turn their saviors into serfs.  Further, a rational, long-range assessment of their own interests would tell patients that it is destructive to demand that patent rights be trampled on.
“Discovering new medicines is a risky and cost-intensive process. The companies that succeed in creating new drugs should be thanked and paid for their inventions–not stripped of their rights and accused of ‘denying access’ to the products their efforts make possible.”

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