Indian pharma firm Cipla today suggested to the Delhi High Court that it was ready to pay "reasonable" royalty to Switzerland-based drug major Novartis AG if it is allowed to manufacture respiratory disease drug, 'Indaflo', which could serve 66,000 patients in India at a cheaper rate.
However, the proposal was not received positively by the Novartis counsel who without mincing a word made a gesture of not accepting it.
Cipla was making submission for lifting the stay ordered by a single judge bench restraining it from manufacturing the drug.
Cipla told the bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva that public interest outweighs everything and if given the license, it will manufacture the drug as the Novartis' drug was costlier and was not available in a majority of the medical stores in the country.
"A company, which does not manufacture drug in India and was importing it in limited quantities which is also not completely sold out, could not claim to be working on its patent," senior advocate P Chidambaram, who appeared for Cipla, told the bench.
He, however, suggested that Cipla was willing to pay a reasonable royalty to Novartis for making the drug and would abide by any order of the court in this regard.
At this juncture, the bench asked senior advocate Gopal Subramaniam, appearing for Novartis AG, whether royalty could be considered by the company.
Responding to this, Subramanian nodded his head in negative.
During the arguments, which would continue on May 20, Chidambaram opposed the restraint on Cipla to manufacture the drug by the single judge bench saying injunction was not the only way to protect the interest of Novartis AG.
"I strongly rely on the pillars of public interest and public interest outweighs everything," he said.
The bench was hearing an appeal filed by Cipla against the single judge bench order restraining it from making its Indacaterol-based drug till it obtains a compulsory licence.
The court had on January 14 sought a response from Novartis AG on the plea of Cipla and has asked it as to how much quantity of drug it imports in the country and why a royalty arrangement cannot be worked out.