Roche's patent on Hepatitis C drug set aside

The Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) has revoked the patent on Roche's branded drug `Pegasys' (pegylated interferon alfa-2a), a medicine used to treat Hepatitis C, seven years after it was granted by the Indian Patent Office in 2005.

The IPAB's decision to set aside the patent granted to F Hoffmann-La Roche AG (Roche) for pegylated interferon alfa-2a (Pegasys) follows an appeal filed by an NGO Sankalp Rehabilitation Trust, represented by Lawyers Collective HIV/AIDS Unit.

Sankalp objected to the patent granted to Roche as the pegylation process, which helps the drug stay longer in the blood, was already known.

The process benefits the patient as it reduces the frequency of injections to be taken to just once a week, as opposed to thrice earlier.

Sankalp's counsel also argued that the price was also an important feature as the patented drug tended to be more expensive than its generic versions.

Also, the drug is a biological product, derived from a natural source, and not manufactured like medicines through a chemical process.