India's top court dismisses Novartis petition for cancer drug patent

NEW DELHI (REUTERS) - India's highest court has dismissed Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG's petition seeking patent protection for its cancer drug Glivec, a serious blow to Western pharmaceutical firms which are increasingly focusing on India to drive sales.

In a landmark judgment that has the potential to change the direction of India's pharmaceutical business, the Supreme Court said on Monday that the drug failed to qualify for a patent according to Indian law.

Novartis has been fighting since 2006 to win an Indian patent for an amended form of Glivec. In 2009 it took its challenge against a law that bans patents on newer but not radically different forms of known drugs to the Supreme Court.