Indian high court preserves access to low-cost medications

People in developing countries worldwide will continue to have access to low-cost copycat versions of drugs for diseases like H.I.V. and cancer, at least for a while, reports the New York Times.  While advocates for the pharmaceutical industry argue that liberal rules on patents spur innovation, a growing number of countries are questioning why they should pay high prices for new drugs. Production of the generic drugs in India, the world’s biggest provider of cheap medicines, was ensured on Monday in a ruling by the Indian Supreme Court. Specifically, the decision allows Indian makers of generic drugs to continue making copycat versions of the drug Gleevec, used to treat forms of leukemia, which is made by Novartis. The ruling will also help India maintain its role as the world’s leading provider of inexpensive medicines. Gleevec, for example, can cost as much as $70,000 a year, while Indian generic versions cost about $2,500 a year.