• Switzerland edition
 
India denies revoking Roche cancer drug patent
Roche headquarters in Basel. Photo: Roche

India denies revoking Roche cancer drug patent

Published: 06 Aug 2013 07:59 GMT+02:00
Updated: 06 Aug 2013 07:59 GMT+02:00

India granted Herceptin a patent in April 2007 but said the company failed to protect its intellectual property rights for three other patents related to the best-selling drug.

The Kolkata Patent Office said Roche, which still holds an Indian patent on its main Herceptin invention, failed to turn up for hearings for the additional patents and filed incorrect paperwork.

 "Before the patent controllers issued their decisions, the applicants (Roche) were given due opportunity of being heard but the applicants have chosen not to attend," the office said in a statement.

The Kolkata Patent Office objected to Roche's patent problems, reported at the weekend, being portrayed by foreign media as the latest in a string of intellectual property setbacks for multinational pharmaceutical firms in India's $13-billion drug market.

The patent office said in the case of Roche, it was following "due course of the principle of natural justice, gave the applicant the opportunity of being heard and then only finally disposed of the matter".

The Herceptin additional patents had "not been revoked" but the request for them was treated as "withdrawn" due to failure to follow prescribed steps, the patent office said.

The government does not normally comment at such length on patent issues but it has been under fire from the international drug industry and the United States over its series of rejections of patents accepted in other nations.

The country has been smarting from accusations it fails to uphold intellectual property rights – charges it strongly denies.

India's patent laws are, however, tougher than those in many other countries as part of its attempt to make medicines more affordable for its vast poor population.

It insists drugs must stand the "test of innovation" to be granted patents and refuses to allow so-called "evergreening" – the awarding of a patent for a small improvement to an existing medicine to extend the patent's shelf life.

Once drugs go off patent, they can be sold much more  cheaply.

India, known as the "pharmacy to the world", has a huge generics industry that turns out cheaper copycat versions of life-saving branded drugs for poor patients in developing nations.

Roche spokesman Daniel Grotzky told AFP that the company could "confirm that the Assistant Controller of Patents at the Kolkata Patent Office has refused" Herceptin the additional patents.

"We are now considering the further course of action," he said in an email, adding he could not immediately comment on the Indian account of events.

Roche's drug, Herceptin, has become one of its most successful medicines, blocking the action of a protein that spurs tumour growth.

"The applicant may explore further legal possibilities, as they so desire," the Kolkata Patent Office said in its statement late Monday, without elaborating.

The Roche controversy comes after the Intellectual Property Appellate Board in India last week revoked a local patent granted to Britain's GlaxoSmithKline for breast cancer drug Tykerb, calling it an incremental improvement on anearlier drug.

The Roche patents were rejected for procedural problems rather than for intellectual property reasons.

Western drug-makers are seeking to win a larger part of India's rapidly expanding drugs market to compensate for slowing sales in advanced markets.

India earlier did not grant drug patents but changed the law in 2005 to allow them as part of a World Trade Organization agreement.

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Israel's actions 'may be war crimes': Pillay
Navi Pillay. Photo: UNHCR

Israel's actions 'may be war crimes': Pillay

Israel's military actions in the Gaza Strip could amount to war crimes, UN rights chief Navi Pillay said in Geneva on Wednesday, while also condemning indiscriminate rocket attacks by Palestinian militants Hamas. READ  

Wheelchair user killed in station by SBB train
Photo: Sebastian Widmann/AFP/Getty Images

Wheelchair user killed in station by SBB train

An investigation is under way into the death of a man in a wheelchair who was killed on Tuesday by a Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) train travelling through the Roggwil-Wynau train station in the canton of Bern. READ  

Geneva bank CBH snaps up Portuguese interests
Photo: (Detail) AFP

Geneva bank CBH snaps up Portuguese interests

The main shareholder of troubled Banco Espirito Santo (BES) was placed in receivership on Tuesday as Portugal's largest listed lender announced it has sold off the bulk of its private bank based in Switzerland to Compagnie Bancaire Helvétique, a Geneva-based bank. READ  

Palestinian meets Fifa chief over Gaza crisis
FIFA chief Sepp Blatter. Photo: Marcello Casal Jr.

Palestinian meets Fifa chief over Gaza crisis

Fifa chief Sepp Blatter on Tuesday raised the alarm about the spiralling Gaza crisis as he held talks with the head of the Palestinian Football Association. READ  

Hackers exploit 'holes' in Swiss online banking
Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP/File

Hackers exploit 'holes' in Swiss online banking

Computer hackers are using a “trojan horse” virus to target users of 16 Swiss online banking sites, according to reports from security experts who liken the “holes” in internet banking security to Emmental cheese. READ  

Geneva lawyer named US ambassador to Finland
Charles C. Adams Jr. Photo: Paul Ronga

Geneva lawyer named US ambassador to Finland

President Barack Obama has named Charles C. Adams Jr., a prominent American lawyer and Democratic Party supporter living in Geneva, as US ambassador to Finland. READ  

Strong franc dents Swatch first-half profits
Photo: Swatch

Strong franc dents Swatch first-half profits

Swatch, the world’s biggest watch company, recorded lower profits for the first six months of 2014 compared to the same period a year earlier, as the strong Swiss franc took its toll. READ  

Tax evasion fine soaks Credit Suisse in red ink
Photo: AFP

Tax evasion fine soaks Credit Suisse in red ink

Credit Suisse, Switzerland's second-largest bank, posted an unexpectedly big net second-quarter loss on Tuesday as a huge US tax evasion fine sent it deep into the red. READ  

Nyon's Paléo music festival off to muddy start
Elton John is set to make his first appearance at the Paléo festival. Photo: AFP

Nyon's Paléo music festival off to muddy start

The 39th Paléo music festival, getting under way on Tuesday in Nyon in the canton of Vaud, is struggling with muddy grounds after heavy rain. READ  

Troicki returns from ban with Swiss Open win
Viktor Troicki playing at Wimbledon last year. Photo: Adrian Dennis/AFP

Troicki returns from ban with Swiss Open win

Viktor Troicki made the most of his return to tennis after serving a one-year ban as the Serb defeated Austria's Dominic Thiem 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 on Monday to reach the second round of the Swiss Open in Gstaad. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Tech
Switzerland stays on top of innovation rankings for fourth year
Sport
Video of Bern football player's spectacular own goal goes global
National
Roger Federer and Lindsey Vonn play tennis at Jungfraujoch (VIDEOS)
Business & Money
Competition commission launches probe into Swiss car leasing 'fiddle'
Health
Down's syndrome cases in Switzerland more than double
National
American family files hefty lawsuit over deadly Swiss balloon crash
Features
Graubünden's panoramic Bernina Express celebrates rail history
National
Study rates Zurich as world's fifth most expensive city for expats
National
Swiss-based human brain project directors hit back at research critics
Business & Money
Switzerland gets the edge on EU with China free trade agreement
National
Entries for new Swiss national anthem competition swell over 200
National
Zurich-based helicopter firm denies role in Schumacher medical leak
Culture
Montreux Jazz Festival debuts live internet streaming of concerts
Features
Tour of Bern’s historic fountains tells story of Switzerland's capital
National
Swiss media lament football team's 'cruel' and 'bitter' defeat
International
The Local expands its reach with the launch of new website in Denmark
Sport
Jubilant press hails hat-trick hero Shaqiri as 'Swiss Messi'
National
New website study reveals inequality in Swiss disposable income
Travel
Switzerland’s largest ski area 4-Vallées breaks up over lift dispute
National
VIDEO: Zurich Zoo launches contest to name newborn baby elephant
Business & Money
CEO-to-worker pay gap grows at biggest Swiss firms: union study
Culture
VIDEO: Swiss performance artist plans naked stroll at Art Basel
National
Zurich's new rail line and underground station open 'without a hitch'
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

2,158
jobs available