Global drug giant Novartis (NYSE:NVS) suffered a setback on Monday when India’s Supreme Court struck down its effort to patent an updated cancer treatment.
Novartis had argued that a new version of its existing anti-leukemia drug Glivec should receive a patent, which would have extended the drug’s protection from generic versions. However, India’s patent office ruled that the new version of Glivec was not a new drug and did not deserve a new patent. Novartis has contested the ruling for years, the Associated Press noted.
The Supreme Court sided with the patent office, ruling that the updated version of Glivec did not qualify for patent protection. Global health care activists hailed the ruling, saying that it would lower drug costs for disadvantaged people around the world.
Novartis said that it will halt drug research and development efforts in India due to the ruling. A company executive said the ruling would likely produce a similar response from other global drug makers.
India is home to a generic drug industry producing $26 billion in annual sales. Much of those generic drugs find their way to patients in emerging countries.
In February, Novartis scuttled plans to give its outgoing Chairman Daniel Vasella a $78 million non-compete deal after shareholders balked at the sum.
Shares of Novartis slipped fractionally in Monday morning trading.