Glenmark will continue to sell diabetes drugs in question

Drug maker Glenmark has received a breather in its patent battle over diabetes drugs — Januvia and Janumet — from multinational drug company Merck Sharp and Dohme.

The Delhi High Court denied Merck an interim injunction that would have stopped Glenmark from selling its version of Merck’s diabetes medicines.

While Glenmark would be able to continue to sell its version of the diabetes drugs in the local market, Merck has said it was looking at options, including appealing the Court decision. Glenmark's products directly infringe the intellectual property of Januvia and Janumet, Merck said.

“We believe our patents for Januvia and Janumet are valid and enforceable and we will continue to explore all legal options to vigorously defend them,” the company spokesperson added.

However, Glenmark maintained that its Zita and Zita-Met do not infringe any of Merck's patents in India.

Merck had introduced its drugs in 2008, pegged at one-fifth the United States price. Both drugs are priced at about Rs 42 for a day’s dose.

While Januvia or sitagliptin phosphate is a once-a-day prescription, Janumet or Sitagliptin Metformin is taken twice a day.

Mumbai-based endocrinologist Shashank Joshi said that sitagliptin was the first of its kind drug in a new group of medicines that control weight gain and sugar fluctuations effectively in type-II diabetes. Merck’s product had been introduced at India-specific prices.

The law needs to be clear, so that companies do not stop bringing in future drugs in these categories, he added.

(This article was published on April 5, 2013)
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