Innovation Asset Blog

Western pharmaceutical companies frustrated by Indian patent system

Pharmaceutical manufacturers from around the world are intent on establishing what could be a pivotal foothold in the emerging market of India. However, recent events have highlighted a variety of frustrations faced by foreign drugmakers seeking the intellectual property protections their business demands.

Conflicting reports emerged earlier in the week to suggest that the Indian government had revoked several patents surrounding a breast cancer medicine manufactured by Swiss pharmaceutical supplier Roche Holding AG. While Reuters confirmed this setback, government officials informed local news outlets that certain assets were invalidated as a result of Roche's inability to comply with "local norms" surrounding post-grant review procedures.

"Before the controllers issued their decisions, the applicants were given due opportunity of being heard but the applicants have chosen not to attend," Ministry of Commerce and Industry officials told reporters in a prepared statement. "It is submitted that in the instant cases, the Patent Office has followed the due course of principle of natural justice, gave the applicant the opportunity of being heard, and then only finally disposed of the matter."

This noncompliance comes as somewhat of a surprise when considering Roche's prior history of cultural awareness in local proceedings, but it could signal a broader trend of the diligence asked of ambitious pharmaceutical manufacturers. Just days before the Roche decision was revealed, GlaxoSmithKline saw its own breast cancer drug patents revoked by Indian officials following a protracted trial centered on the legitimacy of incremental innovations.

Peter Ackerman

Peter Ackerman

Founder & CEO, Innovation Asset Group, Inc.