India: the Sunitinib case


Sugen’s patent for anti-cancer drug sunitinib has been revoked by the Indian Patent Office. Ranjna Mehta-Dutt and Swarup Kumar at Remfry & Sagar explain the details of the matter.

In October 2007, Sugen Inc was granted a patent for anti-cancer drug sunitinib (Patent No. 209251) by the Indian Patent Office (IPO). In September, 2012, this patent was revoked by the IPO on grounds of obviousness in a postgrant opposition proceeding filed by Cipla. The patentee challenged this decision by filing a writ petition before the High Court of Delhi primarily claiming that principles of natural justice were not followed since the opposition board’s recommendations were not supplied to it for rebuttal.

During the pendency of the writ, the Delhi High Court granted an order restraining Cipla from marketing a generic version of sunitinib, against which Cipla appealed at the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court in November 2012, lifted the injunction against Cipla and directed the Controller to dispose the postgrant opposition after giving both parties an opportunity to present submissions on the joint recommendations of the opposition board.

Accordingly, fresh hearings were conducted by the Controller of the IPO eventually leading to the issue of a decision revoking the patent of Sugen Inc.

Sunitinib, anti-cancer drug, Sugen Inc, Sutent, Indian Patent Office