A pre-grant opposition has been filed against the anti-HIV drug, Combivir, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, a leading pharmaceutical company . The Manipur Network of Positive People (MNP+) and the Indian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS have lodged the complaint at the Kolkata patent office.
The drug formulation is a combination of two essential anti-HIV drugs Lamivudine and Zidovudine and is not a new formulation, said a release. The grant of a patent is believed to make the anti-retroviral treatment expensive for patients afflicted with the deadly disease.
'We are objecting to the patenting of Combivir because it is not a new invention but simply the combination of two existing drugs,' said K K Abraham, president, INP+.
A similar opposition was raised regarding patenting anti-cancer drug, Gleevac, manufactured by Novartis. The patent was turned down subsequently as it was found to nothing more than a new form of an old drug.
Combivir is one of the anti-retroviral drugs used by numerous AIDS/HIV organizations, worldwide. A fixed dose combination of the drug is used in several projects targeted at provision of cheap and effective AIDS/HIV treatment to those who cannot afford the same.
In India, more than 5.1 million people are afflicted with AIDS/HIV and a majority of these are solely dependent on the generic drugs provided by the national HIV/AIDS treatment program. The issue of a patent can lead to domination with respect to drug manufacture, thereby restricting the production of effective and affordable drug alternatives.