The Delhi High Court did not accede to the plea of Swiss Pharma Major ‘Hoffman La Roche’ seeking to restrain its rival ‘CIPLA Pharma’ from manufacturing and selling anti-Cancer Drug ‘Tarceva’ contending that it was a violation of their patent’s rights.
Justice S.Ravindra Bhat passed an interim order to this effect which would permit ‘Cipla’ to continue making the drug. However, he directed the Company to maintain a sales account specially meant for the sales of the drug in order to calculate damages if any to be awarded to Hoffman provided they succeed in their case.
The cause of action arose when the Swiss Company had come had come to know of the plans of Cipla to launch a generic version of the drug in India and also export the same to various countries. The price difference between them is very high and if the drug is allowed to be sold in India, according to Hoffman it would cut across their sales adversely. since 2007 , it holds the patent rights in India. The drug is administered to patients suffering from advanced lung cancer.
On behalf of Cipla it was contended that this comes under the category of essential drugs for which an urgent licence can be issued. The high price charged by the Swiss Company had made it unaffordable to many of the patients and hence the need for marketing it at a lower price.
The Court took note of the huge price differential between the offerings of the Companies which tilted the balance in favour of Cipla as it felt that whfavoren it comes to the question of affordablity, the interests of the people gets priority over the interests of the Companies. If Cipla is stopped from selling this drug, it would adversely affect them and a decision which would affect the patients cannot be taken.