Roche appeared in court claiming that Cipla's December 2007 introduction of a similar drug branded as Erlocip was a patent violation and demanding that Cipla be forced to halt sales. Cipla's action marks the first time that an Indian company has sold a copy of a patented pharmaceutical under the new intellectual property regime. A reading of the judgment shows that the Cipla legal team had prepared its response well. Among their arguments, Cipla lawyers claimed that Tarceva, known generically as erlotinib, is not truly a novel invention but rather a derivative of an AstraZeneca drug, gefitinib, that failed to earn patent protection in India. Although Roche was granted a patent for erlotinib, Cipla predicts that the patent will be revoked when it is reviewed by India's Intellectual Property Appellate Board. Responding to Cipla's allegations, the Roche legal team claimed that the discovery of erlotinib appears obvious only in retrospect, once the drug has actually been invented and proven to work.
by Jean-François Tremblay |
April 07, 2008