Indian Generic Drug Companies, HIV/AIDS Advocacy Group File Opposition to Patent of Roche’s Antiretroviral Valganciclovir
Indian generic pharmaceutical companies Cipla and Matrix Laboratories and the HIV/AIDS advocacy group Delhi Network of Positive People, or DNP+, recently filed an objection to an Indian patent office's decision to give a patent to Roche's antiretroviral valganciclovir, which helps prevent blindness in HIV-positive people, TopNews reports (Diwan, TopNews, 6/28).
The Chennai, India, patent office granted the patent last year without hearing arguments against the patent from DNP+ and another group that filed pre-grant opposition to the patent, according to the Economic Times. The groups claim that the patent is a new form of an existing drug and that Roche has not shown the new version has improved efficacy. In addition, DNP+ is arguing that many patents approved by the Chennai patent office have been rejected in the U.S., which is considered to have more liberal patent laws, according to the Times.
The Chennai patent gives Roche exclusive rights to market the drug in India for the next two decades. Roche currently sells the drug for 270,000 Indian rupees, or about $6,300, for a full course of treatment in the country. DNP+ and other groups have said the high cost is preventing thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS in India from receiving treatment.
Loon Gangte, president of DNP+, said thousands of HIV-positive people are "unnecessarily losing their vision and their livelihoods simply because the treatment is too expensive" (Economic Times, 6/28).