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India wins patent against China for flu medicine

New Delhi: India has won a crucial patent dispute against China for treating influenza and epidemic fever through medicinal formulations using ‘pudina’ (mint) and ‘kalamegha’ (andrographis), the Lok Sabha was informed Friday.

Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare S. Gandhiselvan said Chinese pharmaceutical company Livzon Pharmaceutical Group Inc, Guangdong, had filed a patent application with the European Patent Office (EPO).

The minister, in a written reply, said China, in its patent application, claimed to have traditional medicine composition for treatment of avian influenza, as well as its method for preparation and application. It was filed in January 2007.

He said officials at EPO, after examining the application, conveyed their intention to grant the patent to the Chinese company.

But April 27 this year, the Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) found in its digital library that they had references from Ayurveda and Unani books about the use of pudina and kalamegha being used to treat influenza and epidemic fever.

“Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) jointly set up by AYUSH and CSIR made a submission to EPO on the basis of available prior art references from Ayurveda and Unani text books the details of four medicinal formulations where pudina and kalamegha have been used for the treatment of influenza, epidemic fever,” Gandhiselvan said.

In their application, they also stated that the uses of these products have been known for hundreds of years in the Ayurveda and Unani systems of medicine. “A team of examiners in EPO considered the evidences on pre-existing knowledge of Ayurveda and Unani,” he added.

On June 10 this year, the patent office decided to cancel their earlier intention of granting patent to the Chinese firm.

“The EPO thus upheld the Indian claim that the medicinal properties of pudina and kalamegha were known to Indian traditional medical system in particular for treatment of influenza and epidemic fever,” he added.

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