MUMBAI, April 10 India's Natco Pharma Ltd
has formally asked the Indian patent office to deny
U.S. drugmaker Gilead Sciences Inc's breakthrough
hepatitis C drug Sovaldi a patent in India, a source with direct
knowledge of the matter said.
If successful, the move could clear the way for the Indian
company to launch a generic version of the drug.
Natco has filed a so-called "pre-grant opposition" with
India's Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trademarks,
said the source, who declined to be named because the
information was not public yet.
Reuters could not immediately obtain a copy of the filing.
Natco Chief Executive Rajeev Nannapaneni declined to
comment. Officials at the Indian patent department in Mumbai
were not immediately available for comment.
India's patent laws allow a third party to dispute the
validity of a pending patent application. Natco has opposed the
patent on the grounds that Sovaldi is not "inventive" enough,
the source said.
Foster City, California,-based Gilead aims to license
Sovaldi to three or four Indian generic manufacturers to allow
sale of the medicine at lower prices in some 60 developing
nations including India.
(Reporting by Zeba Siddiqui in MUMBAI; Editing by Tony Munroe)