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More setbacks for big pharma in India

Following hard on the heels of earlier examples of the difficulties facing pharmaceutical companies attempting to extend the patent lifetime of their products (link to 'Pharmaceutical Prices' blog), comes news of further decisions that have gone against them.

Allergan's patents on combination eye drugs Ganfort (bimatoprost/timolol) and Combigan (brimonidine/timolol) have been revoked in India, and Roche has failed to obtain a patent there for its breast cancer drug herceptin, though in the latter case it seems that the application failed for procedural reasons, rather than a finding by the Patent Office that the drug was not patentable.

Meanwhile, GSK has had mixed fortunes in relation to patents in India for its cancer drug lapatinib. The drug itself has been granted a patent, but a further patent directed specifically to a particular salt form of the drug (the ditosylate) was revoked on the grounds of being obvious.

These decisions provide further evidence of the increasingly high hurdles that pharmaceutical companies face in attempting to obtain patent protection for follow-on inventions (formulations, salt forms, combination therapies etc) in countries such as India.

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