Allergan takes latest IP hit as India revokes 2 patents

Add Allergan to the list of Western companies that have suffered intellectual property setbacks in emerging markets this week. India has been particularly active in revoking patents lately, and it targeted two of the company's eye drugs Thursday.

According to The Economic Times, India's patent appeals board revoked the patents covering glaucoma treatments Ganfort and Combigan, both used to reduce pressure inside the eye. The action came following a patent challenge from domestic drugmaker Ajanta Pharma.

The last thing Allergan ($AGN) needs is an opening for more generic competition. In June, the FDA said it wouldn't require clinical trials for approval of generic versions of Allergan's $792 million drug Restasis. Allergan's shares were battered by the news, and the stock was downgraded by some analysts to reflect earlier competition for the chronic dry eye treatment than had been anticipated.

These revocations are just the latest in a month that already has been brutal for Western pharma players. Just a few days ago, India's Kolkata Patent Office pulled divisional patents for Roche's ($RHHBY) breast cancer drug Herceptin; though the company has partnered with Indian drugmaker Emcure Pharmaceuticals to produce cheaper versions of the drug, the patents were revoked on claims that they were not correctly filed. That move came shortly after India's Intellectual Property Appellate Board yanked a patent held by GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) for its own breast cancer drug, Tykerb. And China has gotten in on the action as well recently, with the country's State Intellectual Property Office taking back the patent for Gilead Sciences' ($GILD) HIV and hepatitis B drug Viread earlier this week.

The problem is not a new one for multinational companies looking to capitalize on the growth promise of emerging markets. Indian patent authorities have been searching for ways to bring more affordable versions of branded meds onto the market to increase access for the country's poor citizens. These solutions have included granting a compulsory license on Bayer's cancer treatment Nexavar and allowing Indian generics maker Natco Pharma to produce a cheaper version; denying patent protection to Novartis' ($NVS) blood cancer blockbuster Glivec in a case that went all the way up to India's Supreme Court; and revoking a series of patents on drugs ranging from Roche's hep C med Pegasys to a Merck ($MRK) asthma drug. Pfizer ($PFE) has also lost a patent for kidney cancer treatment Sutent, but the patent office is currently reconsidering that decision after a June appeal.

- read the Economic Times story

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