The end of Roche vs. Cipla infringement lawsuit


The tussle between Roche and Cipla that started in the year 2008 has come to an end with a compromise announced on 30th May 2017 between the parties.

Roche has an Indian patent over a drug, “Erlotinib hydrochloride”, for treating lung cancer. In the year 2006, Roche launched the drug in India under the name “Tarceva”. It was reported in January 2008 that Cipla is planning to launch a generic version of “Erlotinib” under the name “Erlocip”. Roche followed by initiating infringement proceedings against Cipla in January 2008.

Roche’s plea for interim relief by way of injunction was rejected by single judge with an opinion that injunction against Cipla’s manufacture was against public interest. Notably, Tarceva costed around INR 140,000 (~USD 2300) for a month’s dosage, whereas Elrocip costed only INR 48,000 (~USD 800). Subsequent appeal by Roche was mostly unsuccessful.

The turnaround in the case happened in 2015, when the case was moved to the Divisional Bench of the Delhi High Court where the judgement was in favour of Roche. The Divisional Bench held that Cipla was infringing Roche’s patent.

Followed by the judgement, Cipla filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) requesting for appointing a technical expert, which was accepted by the Apex Court in 2016 after which the matter was adjourned. After almost decade long legal proceedings, on 30th May 2017 both the pharmaceutical companies finally came to an agreement and reached a settlement. In June 2017, Cipla moved the apex court seeking to withdraw the Special Leave Petition (SLP) filed against the DHC divisional bench’s decision given in 2015.

The case which is considered to be significant in the Indian pharmaceutical industry has come to an end after shedding light on various aspects of laws pertaining to patent protection of pharmaceutical products.

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