Easter blessings from UCAN
There is no more important week in the year for Christians than this Holy Week. We call it Holy because of the mystery we celebrate - God's gift of His son who loves us to his death on Calvary and beyond.
Because of that love, we wish each other Happy Easter even when we know there is a lot of tragedy about it - Good Friday. As Christians, we know that what we see happening with and in Jesus goes to the heart of what we know from our own experience of life.
At the Second Vatican Council, the Christian lives we all lead were described as being shares in the Paschal Mystery. We have our share in the death and resurrection of Jesus every day. Our lives are part of the Paschal Mystery.
At UCAN, we work to describe that mystery in the unfolding tragedies and astonishing blessings of the people we seek out and report, feature and comment on.
While at times deeply distressing work, this effort of ours gets its coherence in the same way the death of Jesus did - because of the astonishing grace of a God who never gives up on life and love.
Because of that, we can wish you Happy Easter.
Fr. Michael Kelly SJ
Pharmaceutical giant loses court battle
Advocates hail landmark for affordable medicineOriginal Glivec packaging (Photo:GNU/Wkkimedia Commons)
- Christopher Joseph, Kochi
- April 3, 2013
India's Supreme Court on Monday rejected a multinational company's plea to patent a cancer treatment drug. Healthcare workers hailed the decision as a landmark judgment for affordable medicine.
The court dismissed Swiss pharmaceutical maker Novartis AG's claim that its cancer drug Glivec uses a chemical modification and therefore should be patented, which would give it exclusive rights to make the drug in India.
The court decision ended a seven-year legal battle.
"We are happy about it," said Lalitha Nair, deputy director of the Indian Cancer Society, a Mumbai-based group that works to provide affordable solutions for the detection and treatment of cancer.
Novartis' branded drug costs around US$2,100 per month, while the generic drug made by Indian companies costs only US$145.
"How many Indians can afford such costs?" Nair asked, saying 700 million Indians live on less than US$2 a day.
She said the majority of afflicted people are in rural areas and the court verdict will make medicine affordable for them. According to reports, some 300,000 Indians are currently taking the drug, mostly the generic version.
Most Indians do not have health insurance or social security to take care of their medical bills, said Fr Tomi Thomas, director of Catholic Health Association of India.
"This benchmark judgment will prevent continued patent protection and open up markets for generic products," said the priest, who directs a network of some 6,000 Church-run health facilities, mostly in villages.
"This kind of pro-people judgment will give a fillip to the promotion of generic drugs in the country," said Father Thomas, who heads country's second largest health care network after the government's.
The verdict will also make the drug easily available, he said.
Ranjit Shahani, Novartis India vice-chairman and managing director, responded: "We strongly believe that original innovation should be recognized in patents to encourage investment in medical innovation, especially for unmet medical needs."
The pharma giant's struggle began in 2006 when it applied for a patent for a new version of Glivec, known as Gleevec outside India. The earlier version had no Indian patent because it came to the country before the first patent law was adopted in 2005.
Indian authorities declined the patent, saying the medicine was not a new version. The 2005 law prohibits granting patents to medicines with only minor changes to existing products, a practice known as "evergreening."