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SWISS major Roche has moved the Bombay High Court (HC) against domestic major Cipla for allegedly infringing both the patent and trademark of its patented drug Valcyte in India. Cipla had recently launched the low-cost version of the drug under the brand name Valcept.

This is the second time that Roche has taken Cipla to court. In the earlier instance, Roche had contested the launch of a generic version of its lung cancer drug Tarceva. That case is pending in the Delhi High Court.

When contacted, Cipla joint MD Amar Lulla said, “I don’t have the details but Roche has filed a patent and trademark case against the company.” Roche India MD Girish Telang said he could not comment over phone. Valganciclovir is used to prevent eye infections in people who have less immune power, such as people living with HIV and AIDS.

Industry sources said that Cipla has been emboldened as the Delhi HC had refused to give injunction in the pending Tarceva case. “Besides the patent infringement, Cipla’s drug name is phonetically similar to Roche’s patent protected drug,” the source added.

Industry sources say Cipla’s drug Valcept is priced at Rs 245 per tablet, compared to Roche’s maximum retail price for Valcyte at over Rs 1,000. Cipla had filed its generic version of Tarceva at about one-third the price of Roche’s patented drug. The Delhi HC had refused to grant injunction against Cipla’s drug citing public interest, given the significant price difference between the two drugs.

Patent expert Shamnad Basheer says that Roche received the patent for the drug in June last year from the Chennai patent office. However, Indian companies Ranbaxy, Cipla and patient group Delhi Network of Positive People (DNP+) living with AIDS have filed post-grant opposition against the drug. They say that Roche’s drug is an obvious compound, which cannot be granted patent under the section 3(d) of the Indian patent law. The decision on the post-grant opposition is still pending, Mr Basher said in his blog.

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