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Patents: Govt, Firms Sing Different Tunes (India)

This article was originally published in PharmAsia News

Executive Summary

R&D firms have submitted 80 patent applications in India for minor upgrades in TB drugs, despite the presence of a patent law that guards against giving exclusive commercial rights for modifications of existing medicines. Patent applications for both new processes as well as modified product forms are pending on existing drugs such as Rifampicin, Moxifloxacin, Quinoline, Aminoquinoline, Ethylene diamine, and Fluroquinolone. Patent expert Gopakumar Nair says of the TB application status: "We are not aware of any new drugs developed for TB in the last 15 years. So, even if some companies have applied for product patents, they may not stand official scrutiny." Seventy patent applications are aimed at product and process-by-product patents, eight are on diagnostic techniques, and two applications are on method of treatments. These applications are being filed even as Swiss multinational Novartis and the Indian government are involved in a legal dispute over the issue of refusing patents to Novarti's Glivec, an anti-cancer drug. The disagreement revolves around whether improvements to known substances are patentable under the Indian Patent Act. (Click here for more

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