Intellectual property disputes differ from each other and are consequently handled on a case-by-case basis. However, some analysts and patent lawyers believe the that Supreme Court ruling in the case of the Novartis's anti-cancer drug Glivec will influence, if not impact, other IP-related pharma disputes in the country.
There are several drugs for which big global pharma companies have been fighting intellectual property battles in India.
"The Supreme Court judgment has followed recent trends. Last year Pfizer Inc's cancer drug Sutent and Roche Holding AG's hepatitis C treatment Pegasys lost their patented status in India. Technically, the Supreme Court has upheld the status of the existing Indian patent law requirement with regard to "novelty" and agreed with the Indian Patent Office's view that the amended form of Glivec was not vastly different from the earlier version," says Atul Dua, Senior Partner, Seth Dua & Associates.
Pfizer's Sutent case is now before the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) and a decision is expected soon.
Two Hyderabad-based firms, Natco Pharma and Hetero Drugs, are in a dispute with Bristol-Myers Squibb over its cancer drug Dasatinib, sold under the brand name Sprycel.
While rulings are awaited in these and other cases, the Supreme Court judgment in the Novartis case has been cheered by Indian generics companies such as Cipla, Natco and others. The generic version of Glivec sells at one tenth the innovator price. Novartis, however, points out that it offers the drug almost free to the most needy people under its patient-assistance programme.