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25 January 2007

Dr. Manmohan Singh
Honourable Prime Minister of India
The Prime Minister's Office
South Block, Raisin Hill
New Delhi
India, 110011

Telephone: 91-11-23012312
Fax: 91-11-23019545 / 91-11-23016857

Honourable Prime Minister,

Re: Novartis’ challenge to India’s public health safeguards

We write to express our concern over the upcoming case in the Chennai High
Court, where Novartis AG has taken the Indian Government to court in a
challenge to a key public health provision in the Indian Patents Act.

The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) is an organisation dedicated to ensuring
access to affordable treatment for the millions of people living with HIV/AIDS in
South Africa and throughout the developing world. We have seen first hand the
dramatic effect that the introduction of Indian generic versions of costly branded
ARV medication had on access to treatment for thousands of South Africans. We
depend on the continued ability of the Indian generic pharmaceutical industry to
produce safe, effective and affordable medicines.

In March 2005, when India was amending its Patent law to make it TRIPS
compliant TAC was present in New Delhi expressing our concerns on this very
issue. We were heartened by the move of the Government of India and the
Indian Parliament to interpret the TRIPS agreement in light of the Doha
Declaration and the Indian Constitution to include key public health safeguards in
the Patents law.
We have now heard that one of these very crucial safeguards, Section 3(d) of the
Indian Patents Act designed to prevent frivolous patents from being granted at
the cost of public health is being challenged by multinational pharmaceutical
company Novartis AG. Novartis should not be allowed to succeed in this attempt
to cut off the largest and most dependable supply of affordable medicines to the
developing world.

Nearly ten years ago, in South Africa, we faced a similar move by Novartis and
38 other pharmaceutical companies which took the South African government to
court for its Medicines and Related Substances Act; a law that would allow for
compulsory licenses and parallel import of medicines to South Africa. Their
reasons were similar to the ones they claim now in the Indian case– the
protection of patent rights. It took three years of sustained public pressure for the
companies to withdraw their cases in 2001. In the meantime over 400,000 South
Africans had died from AIDS related causes, many of them unable to access
affordable medication because of the actions of Novartis and the other

We trust that you share our concerns regarding this litigation by Novartis and are
doing everything in your power to ensure that section 3(d) of the Indian Patents
Act is vigorously defended by the government against this action designed to
thwart access to affordable medication.

Yours sincerely,

Sipho Mthathi
General Secretary
Treatment Action Campaign

CC:      Dr Anbumani Ramadoss
         Honourable Minster of Health and Family Welfare
         Nirman Bhavan, Maulana Azad Road
         New Delhi 110011
         Tel: 91-11-23061751; Fax: 91-11-23062358

         Naresh Dayal
         Health Secretary
         Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
         New Delhi 110011
         Fax: 91-11-23061252

         Sri Kamal Nath
         Honourable Minster of Commerce & Industry
         Room No. 45, Udyog Bhavan
         New Delhi
Tel: 91-11-23061008
Fax: 91-11-23062947

Mr. T.C. James
Deputy Secretary to the Government of India
Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion
Room No. 259, Udyog Bhavan
New Delhi 110011
Tel: 91-11-23061957
Fax: 91-11-23061919

Mrs. Sonia Gandhi
Indian National Congress Party
& Member of Parliament
10, Janpath
New Delhi 110 001
Tel: 91-11-23014161
Fax: 91-11-23018646

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