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Roche gives up on India patent for breast cancer drug

Reuters  Zurich, August 16, 2013
First Published: 21:04 IST(16/8/2013) | Last Updated: 21:09 IST(16/8/2013)

Roche Holding has decided not to pursue a patent application for its breast cancer drug Herceptin in India, the Swiss company said on Friday, as Western drugmakers come under pressure over high prices in the fast-growing market.


The Kolkata Patent Office said earlier this month that it had dismissed certain patent applications filed by Roche, because the company had failed to submit the applications for Herceptin correctly.

“Roche has come to the conclusion not to pursue Indian Patent No. 205534 (the secondary patent) and the related divisional applications,” a Roche spokesman said. “This decision takes into account the strength of the particular rights and the IP (intellectual property) environment in India in general.”

Western pharmaceutical companies are keen to tap into India’s $13 billion (about Rs79,768 crore) drug market, but there are concerns about the level of protection for intellectual property in the country.

Herceptin, a treatment for a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer, is Roche’s third-biggest seller and notched up global revenues of 3.08 billion Swiss francs (about Rs. 20,260 crore) in the first half of the year.

India’s government has considered issuing a compulsory licence on Herceptin, which would allow local drugmakers to sell far cheaper, generic copies.

The government has so far held off from a decision.

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