Cipla leans toward compromise in India court case over Onbrez from Novartis

Cipla offered a compromise of sorts to Novartis ($NVS) through the Delhi High Court, where it is appealing a stay order on producing a generic of the Swiss drugmaker's Onbrez (indacaterol) for respiratory diseases. Novartis rejected the offer outright.

Cipla told the court at a hearing that if the stay were lifted, it would be willing to pay a reasonable royalty to Novartis. Cipla argued that it was in the public interest to make the drug available at a lower price than Novartis was charging respiratory patients. It also said Onbrez is not even sold in most of India's medical stores.

That argument also was part of Cipla's original challenge to the Novartis patent: By importing the drug in such limited quantities, Novartis was failing to work its patent in India.

The two-judge panel asked the Novartis lawyer for a response and the attorney merely shook his head, "no," according to the Business Standard. The court could, however, impose the Cipla compromise if it chose to.

Cipla was sued by Novartis for violating its Onbrez patent. At the time, Cipla was marketing a generic of the drug under its own brand, Indaflo. One of the court's judges, acting alone, issued the stay on Cipla marketing its drug until it could obtain a compulsory license.

At a hearing of the full court in January, the judges evinced an interest in Cipla's arguments that Novartis was not working its patent in India. At that time, they questioned whether Novartis was importing enough of its drug to meet demand and whether royalty payments could be arranged.

- here's the story from Business Standard