"Novartis filed an appeal in Madras, India, against a decision to prevent it from patenting a new version of leukemia drug Gleevac, whose patent expired.
If the company wins its case, Indian companies could be banned from making generic versions of the drug, sold around the world for about 1-10th of the $2,600 price for a month`s supply Novartis charges, The International Herald Tribune reported.
'Novartis is trying to shut down the pharmacy of the developing world,' Doctors Without Borders` Campaign for Access to Essential Medicine Medical Director Unni Karunakara said at a New Delhi news conference.
'Indian drugs form the backbone of our AIDS programs in which 80,000 people in over 30 counties receive treatment,' he said. 'Over 80 percent of the medicines we use to treat AIDS come from India.'
Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam International have collected nearly 250,000 signatures on a petition asking Novartis to drop the case.
A 2005 Indian patent law lets patents be granted on new versions of older drugs whose patents have expired if the new version can be shown to represent a significant improvement on the original."