Archive for February, 2010

AGAP lauds the Courts denial of the Pfizers prayer for writ of injunction against Unilab

Posted on February 23, 2010. Filed under: News |

The multi-sectoral coalition Ayos na Gamot sa Abot-Kayang Presyo (AGAP) commends the order of the Regional Trial Court of Makati, Branch 66, denying the writ of injunction filed by Pfizer Philippines, Inc. against United Laboratories (Unilab) with regard to the introduction of the latters generic version of the anti-cholesterol drug Atorvastatin.

Pfizer filed a complaint against Unilab for alleged infringement of its patent on Atorvastatin calcium. It alleged that it is the registered patent owner of Atorvastatin Calcium and that Unilab should not have introduced, promoted, or offered for sale Avamax.

The Court in its February 8 order said that Pfizer, Inc. failed to prove that it is indeed the owner of the patent subject of the controversy. “Consequently, plaintiff Pfizer, Inc’s status as a licensee is also in doubt…” added the Court. Pfizer was not able to prove the validity of the subject patent, which is a requirement before injunction may issue.

With this decision, we now call on the Filipino-owned Mercury Drug, which to date has refused to carry Avamax allegedly because, according to its in-house counsel during the Oversight hearing last December, it could be held legally liable for selling it to immediately make available Avamax in all its branches. There is no longer any reason why Mercury Drug should refuse to have Avamax in stock lest it be in nefarious collusion with the multinational Pfizer to protect its market monopoly. Denial to carry a generic medicine is curtailment of the patients’ right to access to essential medicines and negates the very rationale of the Cheaper Medicines Law.

Further, we reiterate our call on the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to immediately amend its Patent Manual of Substantive Examination Procedure to incorporate the public health flexibilities integrated in the Cheaper Medicines Law and thus, prevent the issuance of frivolous patents like those of Lipitor. It is time that the IPO make good of its pronouncements that intellectual property law and policy should be a tool to advance the interest of the Filipino people. Its continuing inaction to amend the Manual despite the enactment of the Cheaper Medicines Law leads us to suspect that the companies benefiting from frivolous patents may be exercising undue influence over the agency.

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