India rejects Abbott patent of Kaletra AIDS drug

By Associated Press
Posted Jan. 4 at 5:43 a.m.

Abbott Laboratories was refused copyright protection on its AIDS drug Kaletra by India’s patent office, allowing Cipla Ltd. and other generic-drug companies to continue selling copies.

Steps involved in making Kaletra “do not constitute an invention,” the agency’s Mumbai office said in documents dated Dec. 30. The patent application by North Chicago-based Abbott had been challenged by the Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge, as well as Cipla and Matrix.

Abbott is reviewing the patent decision and determining its next steps, spokesman Scott Stoffel said today. Newer versions of the drug don’t require refrigeration and needn’t be taken with food, making them better suited for patients in developing countries, he said.

Kaletra, which combines two antivirals, is one of the preferred second-line treatments to fight drug-resistant HIV, according to the World Health Organization, which recommends governments include it on their list of essential medicines. The product generated about $1.37 billion in sales in 2009, making it Abbott’s second-best seller after the arthritis drug Humira.

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