Cipla appeals HC order barring sales of cheap lung drug

Cipla has filed an appeal in the Delhi High Court against an order by the same court last week which restrained it from selling its generic version of Novartis' respiratory drug Onbrez in the domestic market. The matter is expected to come up for a hearing on today.

Protecting Novartis' patents on the drug, the court on 9 January issued an interim injunction directing Cipla to stop the sale of its generic version, and apply for a compulsory licence on the drug if it feels that sufficient quantities are not available for patients in the country. (See: HC backs Novartis, bars Cipla from selling lung drug copy).

The company had late last year launched its version of the drug at Rs130 for 10 pills - one-fifth of the price of Onbrez, which is sold at Rs677 for 10 pills.

Meanwhile, the Novartis India board on Tuesday approved the divestment of its over-the-counter division for nearly Rs110 crore to the proposed healthcare joint venture between its Swiss parent, Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).

Three major brands of the company's consumer healthcare division - calcium supplement Calcium Sandoz, nasal decongestant Otrivin and pain-relief medicine Voltaren - will be sold to the joint venture as part of the deal.

The move is part of its global portfolio restructuring, which Swiss major Novartis agreed with UK-based GSK in April 2014, to create a global consumer healthcare joint venture. GSK will hold the majority share in the joint venture, while the balance will be held by Novartis. More details on the proposed JV are not known.

Taking into account the independent valuation report and recommendation of the audit committee, the Novartis board approved the sale, on or before October 22, 2015, subject to legal and regulatory approvals. The deal will also require the approval of the FIPB. The sale includes the company's OTC patents, trademarks and R&D assets, and the field force.

The global deal also includes GSK's purchase of Novartis's vaccines business, and a sale of its global oncology business to the Swiss company.