Swiss health-care company Roche Pharmaceuticals has finally agreed to end the patent war with India’s Glenmark that has been going on for as long as anyone can remember. Roche claimed its patent right to its cancer drug called Tarceva, an oral non-chemotherapy medicine which is used to treat non-small cell lung cancer.
The Swiss Pharmaceuticals offered the Indian drug-maker to waive any due costs, and have no damage claims provided that, Glenmark exclusively recognizes Roche’s patent rights over Tarceva. Roche also claims to drop charges on "all relevant patent litigation,” Glenmark had duly accepted this tempting offer and both the companies jointly is now urging the Delhi High Court to end their pending suit.
Despite the win over Glenmark, Roche still has other battles ongoing regarding their Tarceva. One of those battles is with India’s other well-known generic drug-maker, Cipla. Roche scored a victory when the Delhi High Court awarded the patent rights to Tarceva to Roche, over Cipla with a small limitation. Cipla can only resume selling their drug “Erlocip”, after Tarceva’s patent expires on 2016. This is not the greatest achievement for Cipla, as it had only gained the patent rights back in the year 2009.
A different verdict was given by one of the Indian courts in 2012, stating that Roche had patent rights over Tarceva while Cipla was not in violation of the company’s patent as, the court held that the molecular structure of both the drugs were different.
Roche seems to have been caught in a “cat and mouse chase” as one drug after another seems to imitate their Tarceva. One of their rivals, Gilotrif, has been making speedy progress in developing a drug that is very unlike Tarceva in terms of its molecular composition, but designed to treat lung cancer.
Although Roche had been dominating the market for quite some time now, it seems that simply attaining the patent rights will not keep similar drugs at bay. Eventually a newer and better version of the drug will come along. Roche seems to be feeling the heat of the situation with a drop of 7% sales for Tarceva in 2015 along with a loss of 892 million US dollars.