TIMELINE - Some key dates on the Indian Patent Act and the Novartis Case

1994/1995: Creation of the World Trade Organization & entry into force of the TRIPS Agreement, which obliges developing countries to grant patents on medicines no later than 2005.

2003: Novartis launches Gleevec in the US at $2,600 per patient per month. Generic versions of Gleevec soon become available in India for under $200 per patient per month.

April 2005: Amendment of India's Patents Act: medicines can now be patented in India. However, the law stipulates that only true medical innovations will be protected by patents. Section 3(d) specifies that new forms of known substances do not deserve patents.

Jan. 2006: Novartis' patent application on Gleevec rejected by Indian patent office, on the grounds that it is simply a new form of a known substance.

May 2006: Novartis appeals patent office's decision in High Court in India. Novartis also challenges Section 3(d) of the Indian Patents Acts.

September 2006: First hearing of the appeal and challenge. No decision made, but broader hearing set for later date.

Jan 29 2007: Next scheduled hearing in Chennai High Court in India