Fwd: The man who invented Glivec hails SC verdict
- From: karmayog - tanya
Reghu Balakrishnan | Mumbai April 3, 2013 Last Updated at 00:46 IST
The man behind Glivec hails verdict
Brian Druker, who invented the drug's molecule, says it would benefit
patients in the short term
Even though Novartis and other multinational corporations (MNCs) are upset
with the Indian Supreme Court's decision to reject Novartis' patent claim on
Glivec, the key man behind the popular cancer drug has welcomed the verdict,
saying it would benefit patients.
Brian Druker, director, Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health and
Sciences University, is the man who invented the molecule - imatinib, the
precursor to Gleevec (Glivec) - as a promising anti-cancer compound in
1990s. "This patent decision clearly makes more affordable drugs available
immediately and this is good for patients in the short term," Druker said in
an email response to Business Standard.
"I have consistently spoken out about what I view as the high price of
drugs, but if we too severely restrict the price of medications, we may lose
the ability to invest in new drugs," he added.
In 2007, Druker reportedly said the price at which Novartis was selling
imatinib around the world had caused him considerable discomfort.
"Pharmaceutical companies that have invested in the development of medicines
should achieve a return on their investments. But this does not mean the
abuse of these exclusive rights by excessive prices and seeking patents over
minor changes to extend monopoly prices. This goes against the spirit of the
patent system and is not justified, given the vital investments made by the
public sector over decades that make the discovery of these medicines
possible," said Druker. His statement is widely used by pharma
non-government organisations across India to challenge the claims of MNCs.
Druker's effort to find a new drug for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) was
started in late 1980s, when he joined hands with industry scientists at
Ciba-Geigy (now Novartis Pharmaceuticals). In 1993, he moved to Oregon
Health Sciences University in Portland and continued his efforts. Imatinib
was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in May 2001 for use in
"The issue is, when does a country move from needing assistance to make
drugs affordable, to being able to contribute more to drug discovery and
innovation," said Druker.
At present, India is at the receiving end after MNCs flayed the government's
decision to allow compulsory licence for patented cancer drugs, which remain
unaffordable to Indian patients. Recently, the Indian patent office issued a
compulsory licence to Natco Pharma to manufacture the generic version of
Nexavar, cancer drug owned by Bayer. Natco plans to sell the drug at Rs
8,880 for a pack of 120 tablets / month, compared to Bayer's price of Rs 2.8
"Whether patients will be adequately monitored is another issue and for the
long-term. Whether this patent decision damages the drug discovery cycle
remains to be seen," said Druker.