MedReps Career Center: Pharmaceutical Sales News

India deals blow to pharmaceutical sales industry, revokes Roche patent

Nov 05, 2012 12:45 PM
While a number of large pharmaceutical sales companies are trying to head off potential revenue losses when many of their blockbuster drugs fall off the so-called "patent cliff," India has dealt a blow to the healthcare community after revoking Roche's property rights to its hepatitis C treatment Pegasys. The move could have a far reaching negative effect on the global pharmaceutical sales industry.

Reuters reports that the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) said that it based its decision to pull the patent that was granted six years ago due to the a lack of evidence that Pegasys was better than existing treatments.

Roche, which will be able to appeal the decision to India's Supreme Court, said that patent protection was essential to ensure that companies will be able to continue research and development of new and innovative products.

"Many of the generic drugs today used in India were once patent-protected and are only available to society because companies such as Roche were willing to take a risk by investing in new innovative drugs," a company spokesman told the news outlet.

In the U.S., a number of drug manufacturing giants recently reported lower than expected third-quarter sales after losing patents on some of their bestselling therapies, including AstraZeneca, which is expected to lose protections on more than half of its products within the next five year, and Novartis, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, Novartis has appealed an earlier decision in India that denied patent protection on its cancer drug Glivec. Novartis' legal battle began six years ago after Indian officials said Gilvec was not a new compound and did not warrant a patent because it was a modified version of an existing drug.  The treatment was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for pharmaceutical sales in the U.S. in 2001 and is currently being marketed under the trade name of Gleevec.

However, despite the recent rulings by India's IPAB and the looming patent cliff in the U.S., the industry will still need a vital marketing and sales force. A recent industry survey from BioPharma Alliance found that doctors still value a pharmaceutical sales representative's expertise, especailly when it comes to newer products.

"Nobody's really going down to zero," BioPharma's Mike Luby noted. "For blockbusters, they might reduce the level somewhat, but they're still putting a fair amount of investment into the sales force right up to the end."

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