Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Cipla opposes patent application on bird-flu drug

Cipla has opposed the patent application on Oseltamivir, a drug that became popular at the peak of the bird-flu epidemic. The pre-grant opposition was filed at the Patent Office in New Delhi earlier this month. Oseltamivir was developed by Gilead Sciences and is sold globally by Roche under the Tamiflu brand name. It is much sought after by Governments across the world as they stockpile the drug in the event of bird-flu jumping species from birds to humans. Cipla's Joint Managing Director, Mr Amar Lulla, told Business Line that the pre-grant application had been "filed on the grounds of known prior-art, invalid claim, lack of novelty and inventive step”. Prior-art is when knowledge on the drug already exists before the cut-off date — of 1995, in this case — and, hence, a patent cannot be claimed, explained an expert on Intellectual Property (IP). There is already another pre-grant opposition on Oseltamivir, filed by Meditab Specialities. A pre-grant opposition allows people to contest a patent application filed by a company at the Patent Office. On hearing the patent-holder and the opposition, the Patent Office eventually grants or rejects the drug firm's application for a patent. The Indian Patent Office had rejected Novartis' claim for a patent on imatinib mesylate, its cancer drug sold under the brand name Gleevec. Source: Business Line

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