Sanofi‘s antri-stroke drug may be copied by Canadian generic maker Apotex (others such as Indian’s Dr Reddy are contending too). Sanofi, however may very well detain a valid patent on the Plavix. What’s the lesson ?
First, Sanofi’s patent may very well be an illusory protection. Apotex may be crushed by Sanofi in a court of justice, or may be not. Certainly, if you’re holding Sanofi shares (as well as Apotex), you should be cautious about what they’re worth.
Second, drugs are paid in many places, at least in part, with public money. Or health protection system, but this is the same. In the end, the state is the ultimate health guarantee for the citizens, and hence picks up the ultimate bill. This is also true when trying to bring health protection in third world countries, where IP may very well looks like a rich country problem, that is, a secondary one.
The bottom line ? Drug patents are weak. Governments want cheap drugs, because they’re out of money to pay for it, be it in poor or not-so-poor countries. Whatever they say, they could withdraw their support as soon as they’re in political trouble on some front they would give a higher priority. And without legislative power behind it, a legally-build monopoly, such as a patent, is a monopoly that can’t be enforced. A beast that shouldn’t valued too much…