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April 1, 2013 at 11:59 AM
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Novartis patent request rejected in India

MUMBAI, April 1 (UPI) -- India's Supreme Court Monday declined to grant patent protection to Glivec, a blood cancer drug made by Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis AG.

The company had been trying to obtain a patent in India for a newer version of Glivec, but the court said a substance used in the drug is already a known one and hence the company cannot seek a patent for the drug using that substance, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

Other foreign pharmaceutical companies seeking to enter India's growing market for drugs had been keenly awaiting the ruling.

The PTI report said a monthlong supply of Glivec costs about 15 times that of the generic variety in India.

Advocate Pratibha Singh, appearing for Indian drug firms Ranbaxy and Cipla, which had opposed Novartis' plea, said the judgment is a victory for Indian companies because they can now manufacture cheaper drugs as long as there is no patent over a medicine.

"Patents will now be granted only for genuine inventions and not on repetitive inventions. The Supreme Court said there was no new invention in the Novartis' drug," Singh said.

She said foreign firms need not be concerned by the ruling because they would still get patents if they have genuine inventions, PTI reported.

Novartis, in a news release, said the patent was denied despite global recognition of Glivec as a life-saving, breakthrough drug for certain forms of cancer, with patents granted in about 40 countries including China, Russia and Taiwan.

"Novartis has never been granted an original patent for Glivec in India. We strongly believe that original innovation should be recognized in patents to encourage investment in medical innovation, especially for unmet medical needs," said Ranjit Shahani, managing director of Novartis India Ltd.

The ruling "is a setback for patients that will hinder medical progress for diseases without effective treatment options," he said.

Manufacturing in March shows robust growth

NEW YORK, April 1 (UPI) -- The pace of U.S. manufacturing growth accelerated in March, a research firm confirmed Monday.

Markit Economics said the manufacturing sector's Purchasing Managers Flash Index rose from 54.3 in February to 54.6 in March, which indicates faster growth, albeit with slimmer gains than were reported in firm's flash estimate report, which had pegged the PMI at 54.9.

The flash estimate is based on 85 percent of the usual monthly survey replies. The numbers firm up or adjust with the second and final estimate.

Markit said the index for new factory orders was unchanged from February's 55.4. The earlier estimate had put the new orders growth measure at 55.9.

The employment index was left unchanged at 54.6. The index reflecting a backlog of work was slightly higher than previously reported at 50.2.

Growth is indicated by any figure more than 50 in the report. Less than 50 indicates contraction.

"Manufacturers enjoyed another month of strong output and order book growth in March, finishing off the best quarter for two years. The sector will have provided a firm boost to the economy in the first quarter, with output possibly growing by as much as 2 percent -- roughly 8 percent on an annual basis -- compared to the final quarter of last year. ," said Markit Chief Economist Chris Williamson.

Report: Wall St. directors get big raises

NEW YORK, April 1 (UPI) -- An executive compensation consultation firm said pay for board directors at the largest U.S. banks grew sharply while thousands of bank workers were laid off.

Board member pay at the six largest banks rose to an average of $328,655 in 2011.

The pay increased through a period in which banks laid off tens of thousands of workers.

Board member compensation averaged $232,142 at among 500 publicly traded companies analyzed by consulting firm Equilar, The New York Times reported Monday.

Since 2008, pay for Citibank directors rose 64 percent, to an average of $315,000 per year, Equilar said.

Directors at Goldman Sachs receive the highest pay among board members of the six largest banks, earning an average of $488,709 in 2011, up 50 percent from 2008, Equilar said.

Bank boards reason that much of a director's pay comes in the form of stock, which means it cannot be cashed in immediately. More importantly, bank officials say, it means that a board member's incentive is to raise the value of the stock, which benefits shareholders.

"While the Goldman pay is high, the directors are paid all in equity that cannot be cashed until they leave the board. These features are beneficial for shareholders but reduce the value of the compensation for the directors," said Lucian Bebchuk, a Harvard University law professor.

Study: California sits on oil riches

LOS ANGELES, April 1 (UPI) -- A University of Southern California study found that Monterey shale oil deposits in the south central part of the state could create 500,000 oil industry jobs.

Accessible oil reserves are four times as large as the Bakken Shale oilfield in North Dakota that is partly responsible for dropping that state's unemployment rate to 3.3 percent, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.

Oil revenues from California's oil boom in the early 20th century fueled the growth of small towns like Taft, but the latest focus is on Monterey shale where an estimated 15.4 billion barrels of oil have become accessible with new drilling techniques, such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

The university study said Monterey shale reserves have the potential to generate $4.5 billion in oil-related tax by 2015.

Southern California environmental issues abound, including desecration of farmland, possible pollution of drinking water and raising the risk of seismic activity, the Times said.

As such, it is hard to say if or when the Monterey Shale bed will be productive, given the arguments about environmental impact that are all but guaranteed, observers say.

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