How do we increase transparency on granted drug patents?

18 Dec 2007

Pfizer did not release the news in June when it received an important HIV drug patent on Maraviroc. After I-MAK announced the granting of the Maraviroc patent on 30/11/07, several blogs and media sources, including Spicy IP, Generic Pharmaceuticals & IP, Economic Times, Livemint and Business Standard ran the story in mid-December. Pfizer is quoted in these press stories as confirming the grant, and its shares on the Indian stock market rose a significant 7.5%.

So why didn’t Pfizer announce the news in June? There could be a few reasons. Pharmaceutical companies don’t usually do press on granted patents because it isn’t "news" in the west. But in India, where with domestic companies and civil society groups are challenging key patents, we can understand why Pfizer (and others) might be trying to run the post-grant opposition period down before someone spots their granted patents. Also, companies probably don’t want to have to do press releases on every occasion a patent is granted, especially if the related product is not approved for marketing at the time, which is often the case.

If companies did make these announcements, it would increase transparency around patents on key marketed drugs, something civil society is pressing pharma to do a lot more of. Plus it also seems to help boost a company’s financial stock.

Incidentally, Pfizer has a related pending application no. 867/BOM/1999 to the already granted patent, also titled ‘CCR5 Modulators’ or ‘Piperidines CCR5 Modulators’, which was published on 18 March 2005. 867/BOM/1999 corresponds to the published EP Patent No. 1140920, (which is also pending with the same outstanding EP Office objections as EP 1140085) and WO0039125.

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