As reported on LiveMint.com, 81 drug patents in India have been called out as being issued in violation of the Country's most recent patent legislation updated in 2005. Reportedly, almost 33% of these were issued to Pfizer, Novartis and Eli Lilly - covering 25 products that domestic critics say should not be patentable in India. Most notable among critics is the Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance (IPA). A table of the controversial patents appears below.
The IPA claims this patents were issued for a "mere incremental innovation" which would not qualify for patent protection under Indian patent law. Pfizer responded that the patents were issued after full examination and prosecution by the Indian patent office - Lilly & Novartis had no comment until studying the matter further. The Organization of Pharmaceutical Producers in India, an industry lobby representing foreign manufacturers, states that there are ample opportunities to challenge granted patents in India. The IPA counters that the patent holders never produced any evidence of "increased efficacy" for their drugs - a key provision for a patent grant to an incremental innovation.
As a practical matter, there is no current provision in Indian law for the patent office to review a granted patent once it has passed the 1 yr post-grant challenge period. Stay tuned for more legal activity in future as the domestic industry continues to battle to compete with generic versions of these challenged drugs.
For a previous post on this topic.
Posted by Bruce Lehr April 10th 2010.