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Eli Lilly sues Aurobindo, Lupin for patent violation

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Aurobindo Pharma and Lupin, alleging infringement of patent of its anti-depressant drug Cymbalta.

Filing a petition on November 24 before the US District Court for the Southern Districts of Indiana, Eli Lilly has alleged that Lupin’s US subsidiary Lupin Pharmaceuticals has infringed its Cymbalta patent.

According to information available on the company website, the US drug giant has also filed a complaint against Aurobindo Pharma USA, the US arm of the Hyderabad-based Aurobindo Pharma. Earlier, the US firm had filed a similar case against another Indian pharma major Wockhardt.

Apart from the three Indian drug companies, Eli Lilly has also sued three US firms — Sandoz, Cobalt Laboratories and Impax Laboratories — on the same ground.

Cymbalta, an anti-depressant drug whose patent will expire on June 2013, has total global sales of around $2 billion in Eli Lilly's portfolio.

These six firms against whom Eli Lilly has filed a suit have actually applied for marketing approval of the copy version, Cymbalta under an abbreviated new drug application.

According to the experts, litigation against generic applicants is very common in the US. Eli Lilly's move is seen as an attempt to delay the introduction of the cheaper version of the drugs by the generic drug makers in the US, which is the largest drug market globally.

Meanwhile, in a case of far reaching implications, the Madras High Court on Tuesday called for re-examination of a patent granted to Swiss drug maker F Hoffman-La Roche's valgancyclovir, marketed under the brand name Valcyte in India.

This is the first time an Indian court is reviewing the decision of the patent office. Valgancyclovir is a critical drug needed for patients suffering with life threatening illnesses. "As per my information, the court wants the patent granted on Valgancyclovir to be re-examined before January 31, 2009,” Girish Telang, MD of Roche Scientific India, said.

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