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Pfizer first MNC to get HIV drug patent in India
  December 11, 2007 02:14 IST
P B Jayakumar in Mumbai
Global drug major Pfizer's new HIV/AIDS drug Celzentry (generic name: Maraviroc) has become the first known HIV/AIDS treatment drug to get a patent in India, in a significant development against the backdrop of the patent battle between multinational drug companies and patient groups in India.
Maraviroc, the first in a new class of oral HIV medicines developed in the last ten years and expected to become a major blockbuster HIV/AIDS drug globally, was granted a patent in India under the Patent Number 204132, based on the patent application 885/BOM/1999 filed with the Bombay patent office, informed sources said.
Discovered and developed by Pfizer scientists since 1997, Maraviroc, which works by blocking the entry of the virus into human cells, received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration only in August 2007, through an accelerated regulatory approval process.
One month later, the European Commission gave marketing approval for Maraviroc in Europe.
Interestingly, the European Patent Office is yet to grant a patent for Maraviroc, citing insufficient data, sources said.
These were the main reasons cited by the Indian Patent Office for rejecting the patent for the cancer drug Gleevec, which snowballed into a global patent battle between the Swiss drug major Novartis [Get Quote] and the Indian government. Leaders with the public interest groups expressed surprise at the decision of the Indian Patent Office.
"This is a major development and is a harbinger of the availability and prices of crucial new drugs. We have to evaluate the importance of this drug for HIV patients in India and will decide on the course of action soon," said Leena Menghaney of Medicines Sans Frontiers.
So far the Indian patient groups have filed about 15 pre-grant oppositions for about seven HIV/AIDS drugs of multinational drug companies.
A Pfizer India spokesperson confirmed that Maraviroc has received a patent in India and said Pfizer is in the process of complying with necessary regulations for registering Maraviroc in India.
"We are committed to bringing meaningful improvement to the lives of people living with and those at the risk of HIV/AIDS through outreach programmes that will enable access of innovative medicines to patients," a statement from the company said.
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