Roche patent for hepatitis C drug challenged in India

The Indian Patent Office has received a challenge against Hoffmann-La Roche’s patent rights for the hepatitis C drug Pegasys.

Public interest groups have said that patent protection and the resultant high price of the drug is making it unaffordable for an estimated 12.5 million Hepatitis C infected people in India. The groups also argued that the product was not an innovation and hence not eligible for patent protection.

Sankalp, a Mumbai-based non-governmental organisation that provides treatment and rehabilitation support to injecting drug users, backed by a group of NGOs led by Lawyers Collective, filed the opposition with the Patent Office on May 18.

Absence of patent protection could help Indian pharmaceutical companies develop cheap reverse-engineered versions of Pegasys, it said.

Source: Business Standard (12 June, 2007)

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