India has thwarted a Chinese pharmaceutical company's plan to obtain a patent from the European Patent Office (EPO) for the treatment of avian influenza and epidemic fever by using pudina (mint) and kalamegha (andrographis).
India pointed out to the EPO that the formulation was known and used in India for centuries and was a part of traditional Indian medicine and therefore could not be patented by the Chinese firm.
In January 2007 Guangdong province-based Livzon Pharmaceutical Group had filed patent application No: EP1849473 with the EPO under the title, ''Chinese traditional medicine composition for treatment of avian influenza, method for preparation, and application'' using pudina and kalamegha.
After reviewing Livzon's patent application, Munich-based EPO, one of the two units of the European Patent Organisation, had informed the company on 25 February 2010 that it intended to grant the patent.
On 27 April 2010, Dr V K Gupta of the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL), jointly set up by the Department of Ayurved, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH) of the health ministry and Centre for Scientific Industrial Research (CSIR) submitted to the EPO details of four medicinal formulations from ayurveda and unani text books, where the uses of pudina and kalamegha for the treatment of influenza, epidemic fever have been practiced for hundreds of years in the ayurvedic and unani systems of traditional Indian medicine.
TKDL is a joint project between the CSIR and the union health ministry's AYUSH.
Since all these traditional formulations were written centuries ago in Sanskrit, Urdu, Hindi, Arabic, Tamil and various other Indian languages, TKDL had to translate these 9th century texts scientifically in five international languages - English, German, French, Japanese and Spanish for the benefit of the EPO.