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In a setback to US consumer health behemoth Johnson & Johnson, India’s patent office has rejected an application from Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, the company’s pharma arm, for an intermediate of Rilpivirine, an HIV drug.

The patent office’s order came in response to a pre-grant opposition filed by Indian pharma company Cipla against the grant of patent. Cipla had argued that the proposed claims lacked inventive steps and hence was not patentable.

NR Meena, deputy controller of patents and designs, Indian Patent Office, Delhi,  after hearing both the companies’ submissions, said; “I conclude that the invention as claimed in claims of the application is not patentable under Section 2(1)(j) of the Patents Act as being devoid of inventive step. The claims also lack sufficiency of disclosure as required under Section 10 of the Patent Act. In the light of the above discussion I refuse to proceed with the application for grant of patent,” the deputy controller said.

Rilpivirine marketed under trade name Edurant is a pharmaceutical drug for the treatment of HIV infection.

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