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GlaxoSmithKline Withdraws Patent Applications For Antiretrovirals

Armen Hareyan's picture

Antiretroviral Drugs

GlaxoSmithKline recently withdrew the patentapplications for its antiretroviral drugs Abacavir and Trizivir in India, the Economic Times reports. According to the Times, GSK formally withdrew itsapplication for Abacavir, and its application for Trizivir was deemed withdrawnafter the company requested that India's Patent Office not examine the case.

Abacavir is a second-line antiretroviral used to treat people living withHIV/AIDS who have developed resistance to first-line drugs. Trizivir is atriple-combination antiretroviral used for first- and second-line treatments,the Times reports. Both antiretrovirals are on the World Health Organization's recommended list of drugs for HIV treatments, the Timesreports. Some Indian generic drug companies -- including Cipla, Ranbaxy Laboratories and Hetero Drugs -- already market one or both drugsin the country. GSK declined to comment on the status of the applications. AGSK spokesperson said the company does "not comment on specific patentapplications. However, as part of our policy, routine reviews of our patentapplications are undertaken on a regular basis."

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An unnamed source said GSK's move is the result of Swiss pharmaceutical companyNovartis's failed challenge to a section of thecountry's Patents Act that aims to restrict certain kinds of patents (Singh, EconomicTimes, 12/7).

India's patent law, whichwent into effect in January 2005, allows patents for products that are newinventions developed after 1995, when India joined the World Trade Organization, or for an updated drug that exhibits improved efficacy (KaiserDaily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/6). According to the Times, the company thought itnecessary to withdraw the applications rather than be rejected because arejection could weaken the company's chances of securing patents in otherdeveloping countries. Medecins Sans Frontieres and I-MAK had challenged the patentapplications on behalf of the Indian Network of Positive People (EconomicTimes, 12/7).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyHIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report ispublished for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser FamilyFoundation.