How India became the capital of generics


This content was published on September 17th, 2012 - 4:31 pm (Keystone-SDA)

In the dispute over cheap drugs in India, the German pharmaceutical company Bayer suffered a setback in court. An Indian patent court on Monday dismissed an urgent action brought by Bayer against a generic drug manufacturer who wants to produce a cheap copy of Bayer's cancer drug Nexavar.

This was said by a spokesman for the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) in Chennai, southeast India. In March, the Indian patent office forced Bayer to give up its property right for Nexavar in favor of the pharmaceutical company Natco. The decision had caused quite a stir internationally.

It was the first time in India that a company had to put up with the production of a patented drug by a competitor. The government in New Delhi wants to significantly lower the price of the drug for the treatment of kidney and liver cancer. Therapy with the Natco copy of Nexavar is said to cost 160 dollars a month - Bayer is currently charging around 5200 dollars in India.

Main proceedings are still pending

However, Bayer does not have to give up completely yet. Even if the urgent application was rejected, the main proceedings are still pending, said the court spokesman. Bayer is now counting on that. According to a company spokesman, the company intends to continue to rigorously defend its intellectual property and to press ahead with the appeal process, in which there has so far been neither a hearing nor a decision.

The pharmaceutical industry fears that the decision could set a precedent and jeopardize the protection of intellectual property rights in the emerging market. Manufacturers worry that, despite its rapid economic growth, India will remain a country where drug patents will be difficult to enforce.

Novartis Supreme Court Trial

The case with the Novartis cancer drug Glivec is somewhat different. Just under a week ago, Novartis patent litigation against the Indian state for the drug began in New Delhi.

The Indian Patent Office refused to patent the drug on the Indian market in January 2006. The patent office had asserted that the main active ingredient was just a new version of an existing active ingredient. The "increased therapeutic effectiveness" required by the Indian patent law is not given.

Novartis did not accept the decision and took the case to the nearest court. This also decided against Novartis, whereupon the company filed another lawsuit and has now reached the supreme court in the capital of the 1.2 billion subcontinent. The verdict in this case is expected in two months at the earliest.

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