May 7, 2007 / 7:14 AM / 12 years ago

Merck patent breach to boost Indian firms-paper

MUMBAI, May 7 (Reuters) - India’s Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd. RANB.BO, Cipla Ltd. (CIPL.BO) and Aurobindo Pharma (ARBN.BO) are set to gain from Brazil’s move to break the patent on Merck & Co. Inc. (MRK.N)’s AIDS drug, the Mint daily reported on Monday.

On Friday President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva authorised Brazil to break the patent and import a generic version from India instead.

Aurobindo Pharma expects gains to be in the region of $50 million, the company’s chairman, P.V. Ramaprasad Reddy told the daily.

Brazil bypassed the patent after the health ministry rejected New Jersey-based Merck’s offer to cut the price of its $1.59 per pill price by 30 percent. It wanted to pay what Merck charges Thailand, or $0.65 per pill.

Mint quoted executives of Indian drug makers as saying that talks to supply generic versions of the drug, Efavirenz, had already begun.

“The talks are on, but they are at a very nascent stage. We can’t say how much order will be placed as of now,” Cipla’s Chief Executive Amar Lulla told the daily.

It also cited an unidentified Ranbaxy official as saying the firm may get a big order but details would be known after a couple of days.

((Reporting by Himangshu Watts, editing by Charlotte Cooper; Reuters Messaging: himangshu.watts.reuters.com@reuters.net +91 22 6636 9030)) Keywords: MERCK PATENT/INDIA

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