China court upholds Pfizer Viagra patent

China court upholds Pfizer Viagra patent

[JURIST] A Chinese court has overturned a 2004 decision by the country's patent review board allowing Chinese drug companies to sell counterfeit versions of the Pfizer [corporate website] drug Viagra [product website], upholding Pfizer's patent and signaling China's intent to crack down on intellectual property rights violations, an official at the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court confirmed Monday. The landmark ruling is consistent with China's undertaking to strengthen patent protections after it was welcomed into the World Trade Organization [official website] in 2001. Pfizer had appealed [JURIST report] the decision to China's State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) [official website], maintaining that it owned the patent to sildenafil citrate, Viagra's main ingredient.

A spokesman for Guangzhou Baiyunshan Pharmaceutical, one of the twelve Chinese companies that wants to sell a generic version of Viagra without paying royalties, stated that it may appeal the decision. Pfizer has applauded the decision, hoping that it will spur better patent protections for 20 additional drugs that Pfizer intends to introduce on the China market by 2010. Viagra was introduced on the China market in 2000, and within six months of its introduction, more than 90 percent of the Viagra pills sold in Shanghai were actually counterfeit. BBC News has more. Bloomberg has additional coverage.