Indian Board Rejects AstraZeneca PLC (AZN)'s Patent Plea on Cancer Drug
11/28/2012 7:30:31 AM
India's patents appeal board has dismissed British drugmaker AstraZeneca's petition challenging an earlier ruling that refused patent protection for a cancer-fighting drug, in the latest blow for Big Pharma in the country. The Indian patents office in 2007 refused patent protection to AstraZeneca's quinazoline molecule, citing lack of invention. The Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) on Monday upheld the refusal. The decision is also a setback for struggling AstraZeneca, which is battling to turn itself around as key drugs lose patent protection. Global drug companies suffered a high-profile reversal in March when India granted the first ever compulsory license to domestic drugmaker Natco Pharma to sell cheap copies of Bayer's cancer drug Nexavar. Bayer has appealed the order. And early this month IPAB revoked a six-year-old Indian patent granted to Roche's hepatitis C drug Pegasys, citing lack of evidence that the drug was any better than existing treatments. Multinational drug manufacturers regard India's $13 billion drug market as a huge opportunity, but are wary of what they see as lax protection for intellectual property in a country where generic medicines account for more than 90 percent of sales.