New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday issued notices to the government, the patents regulator and drug makers Cipla Ltd, Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd, Hetero Drugs Ltd, Natco Pharma Ltd on a petition filed by Swiss firm Novartis AG challenging denial of patent for its blood cancer drug imatinib.
A bench headed by justice Dalveer Bhandari sought replies from the commerce ministry, the comptroller general of patents, the Cancer Patient Aid Association and the four pharma firms that state their objections on why the patent should not be granted.
Glivec row: Novartis headquarters in Basel, Switzerland. The firm has challenged denial of patent for its blood cancer drug imatinib.
The Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) in July rejected Novartis’ appeal against a Chennai patent office’s decision to deny a patent to imatinib, which it sells under the Glivec brand name.
The patent was denied on several grounds, including sections 3(d) and 3(b) of India’s patents law.
Section 3(d) restricts patents for already known drugs unless the new claims are superior in terms of efficacy. Section 3(b) restricts patents for products that are against public interest and do not demonstrate enhanced efficacy over existing products.
Novartis had obtained an exclusive marketing right in 2003 for the drug based on its patent application.
While Novartis had challenged the patent office’s verdict in the Madras high court, its appeals were transferred to IPAB, which held in July that Glivec did not meet the requirement of increased therapeutic efficacy.
(‘PTI’ contributed to this story.)