Natco Overcomes All Hurdles

Ajanta’s skin product trademarks ordered to be removed from theTrademark RegisterOn December 12, 2014, the Supreme Court of India dismissed the Special Leave Petition by German drug maker Bayer against the grant of India’s 1st Compulsory license (CL) to Hyderabad based, Natco.

In March 2012, the Controller General of Patents granted Natco, a compulsory license under Section 84 of the Indian Patents Act to manufacture and sell Bayer’s Nexavar, a drug for the treatment of liver and kidney cancer. Aggrieved by the grant, Bayer approached the Intellectual Property Appellate Board against the decision of the Controller General of Patents. However, IPAB rejecting Bayer’s appeal stated that a stay on the grant would “jeopardise the interest of the public who need the drug” that Bayer contends improves the quality of life. The IPAB also held that India used its rights under WTO norms to issue compulsory licences. It added though Bayer had obtained a patent for Nexavar in India in 2008, it could not make available the kidney and liver cancer drug on a large scale and at an aff­ordable price, within the stipulated time.

Bayer later filed a writ petition before the Bombay High Court challenging the findings of the IPAB however vide its order dated July 15, 2014, the Bombay High Court refused to accept Bayer’s appeal. Finally Bayer filed a Special Leave Petition before the Supreme Court (SC) of India exhausting all the remedies available to it. SC also rejecting Bayer’s SLP held that there is no reasonable justification with the court to interfere with the order of the Controller General of Patents.

Overcoming all the hurdles, Natco now holds the CL to manufacture and sell Nexavar with all validity. By this move, India maintained the importance of public interest and citizen’s right to access aff­ordable medicines. However, many multinational drug makers predict that this grant of compulsory license would weaken patents and discourage pharma companies from investing in drug discovery.

By this move, India maintained the importance of public interest and citizen’s right to access a­ffordable medicines.