Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Friday, Apr 09, 2004
Marketing - IPR
Natco Pharma may move SC on marketing rights for cancer drug
Hyderabad , April 8
AGGRIEVED over the move of the Delhi High Court on Tuesday of disposing off the case on the issue of exclusive marketing rights (EMR), Natco Pharma Ltd (NPL) said it "would be examining various options available to it under the circumstances".
One of the options available before the company is to go on appeal before the Supreme Court, a company source said.
Challenging the decision of the Controller-General of Patents and Trademarks of India to grant EMR in favour of Novartis India for its anti-cancer drug in the country, Natco had earlier filed a case in the Delhi High Court.
Novartis India is the first company to get EMR for a drug in the country under the product patent regime. The Indian subsidiary of the multinational company was given the EMR to its drug Glivec for five years or until a product patent supersedes the rights in the country.
Natco had challenged the constitutional validity of the provisions of the Indian Patent Act 2002, which provide for grant of EMR. "After hearing both the parties, the High Court, without going into the merits of the case, was of the opinion that it could not entertain the writ petition on the point of jurisdiction," Natco Pharma said in a press release here on Wednesday.
Natco Pharma, which has been focussing its efforts on launching highly affordable anti-cancer drugs in the country, launched early last year Imatinib Mesylate, a drug for the treatment of chronic myeloid leukaemia. Natco made the medicine, under the brand `Veenat', available at one-tenth of the cost of Novartis' Glivec.
According to the Natco Chief Operating Officer, Mr Rajeev Nannapaneni, the company's therapy costs $2,700 per annum, against Novartis' $27,000 per annum.
Natco has been arguing that under the provisions of the Indian Patent Act and Rules, exclusive rights can be granted only in respect of patents and applications filed in a convention country after January 1, 1995.
Natco has been urging the Government to review the policy on EMR at least in respect of non-lifestyle, critical and life-saving medicines.
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