CIPLA GETS RELIEF AS SUPREME COURT REJECTS ROCHE PLEA

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THE Supreme Court has rejected Swiss drugmaker Roche’s petition to stop Indian firm Cipla from selling the generic version of its cancer drug Tarceva, to ensure that Indians have access to the medicine at a lower cost till the Delhi High Court decides on Cipla’s patent-challenge plea.

   Erlotinib—the chemical name of Tarceva–is a chemotherapy drug used to treat non-small cell lung cancer and pancreatic cancer. Roche India had moved the apex court to challenge the decision of a Delhi High Court division bench in April not to grant an interim injunction against Cipla’s generic in public interest as the Indian firm was selling the medicine at onethird the price.

   Roche sells Tarceva for Rs 4,500 per tablet, while Cipla’s generic is sold at Rs 1,500. Roche received patent for Erlotinib in India in 2007.

   Cipla challenged it last year by filing a post-grant patent for the drug. And it decided to launch the generic version of the drug in January without waiting for the Delhi High Court’s ruling on its patent opposition.

   Indian laws allow the launch of a generic drug even before the patent issue is settled. In case the generic drugmaker loses the case, then it has to compensate the patent holder. Confirming the ruling, a Roche India spokesperson said: “The SC also asked the Delhi HC to expedite the case.”

   Roche has been pushing for an early decision on the matter. According to Shamnad Basheer, professor of intellectual property law at the National University of Juridical Sciences who has been tracking the case closely, the high court judgment is expected within six months.

   Cipla said the ruling will benefit cancer patients and hoped the patent decision will be in its favour. “Public interest would play a very important role in the grant or nongrant of injunctions in patent infringement matters if there is a credible challenge to the validity of the patent,” Cipla’s lawyer Pratibha Singh.

Ends marketing pact with Avesthagen

Cipla has terminated its marketing agreement with Avesthagen and is looking at selling its 5.8% stake in the Bangalore-based company, reports Nina Mehta from Mumbai. “We are looking at different alternatives (for the stake sale) but it all depends on the valuations,” Cipla CMD YK Hamied. Cipla ended the agreement due to Avesthagen’s alleged failure to meet targets. The Mumbai-based generics major is, however, clear that it wants a presence in the biosimilar space and is close to finalising a deal with a Chinese partner.

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