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Madras Court Sets Aside Roche Patent

Issued: January 01 2009

The Madras High Court in December set aside a patent issued to Swiss pharmaceuticals company F Hoffman-La Roche for its anti-viral drug Valganciclovir, which is primarily used to the fight the HCMV infection. HCMV can be life threatening for patients who are immunocompromised due to HIV, organ transplants or neonates. It infects between 50% and 80% of adults in the United States, according to some medical professionals.


The court, in hearing a petition filed by the Indian Network for People Living with HIV/AIDS and Tamilnadu People Networking People with HIV/AIDS, found that the Chennai patent office had failed to hear a pre-grant opposition filed by the two groups in 2006.


The court sent the patent application back to the Chennai patent office.


When the patent was granted in 2007, the grant attracted strong criticism from patient groups and Indian pharmaceutical companies who raised allegations that the drug, which Roche sold under the name Valcyte in India and other markets, had first been patented before 1995 and was not, therefore, qualified for an exclusive patent in India.


According to court records, Indian drug manufacturers including Ranbaxy Laboratories and Cipla have also filed post-grant opposition to the patent.


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