Pharma major Cipla has applied for a "voluntary license" for Merck's anti-HIV drug Isentress saying the drug is exorbitantly priced and is inaccessible to needy patients in India.
What this means is that Cipla is asking Merck to share the technical know-how for making the drug, so that Cipla can make and sell a generic version in India, and in turn pay a royalty to Merck.
Should Merck decline Cipla, the Indian drug maker has the option of approaching the (Indian) government for a compulsory licensing of Isentress.
A generic drugmaker can invoke the compulsory licensing provision once the patent completes three years and the patent holder is given a six-month notice to consider a voluntary licence offer.
Commenting on whether Cipla has a case, Vikas Dandekar of PharmaAsia said Isentress has been launched at a fourth of its US prices in India by Merck.