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PATNEWS: India government council challenging US drug patent

  >From Gregory Aharonian's excellant PATENT-NEWS. jl
  ---------- Forwarded message ----------
  Date: Tue, 23 Jul 1996 21:12:08 -0400
  From: Gregory Aharonian <srctran@world.std.com>
  To: patent-news@world.std.com
  Subject: PATNEWS: India government council challenging US drug patent
  !19960724  India government council challenging US drug patent
      The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research of India has filed
  a reexamination request with the US Patent and Trademark Office, asking them
  to revoke a patent issued to the University of Mississippi.  The patent,
  5,401,504, claims the use of turmeric for promoting wound healing.  The
  Indian government is arguing that turmeric is a well known traditional
  medicine used in India, and even written about by Indian researchers as far
  back as the 1950s.  Basic patent info is at the end.
      The request is seen as a test case for challenging other patents based on
  traditional-plant based medicines, which developing countries argue shouldn't
  be patented.  This can be a double-edged sword, as it could discourage drug
  companies from developing more important plant-based drugs.  A crucial case
  in point is that of malaria.  About 2.7 million African people die each year
  due to malaria, and global health experts are getting worried that the
  figure could rise to 7 million deaths a year in Africa and Asia.  This is
  because the malaria parasite is becoming resistant to quinine when used to
  fight cerebral malaria.
      There is however a plant based drug, artemether, derived from the shrub
  wormwood, which has been shown to be as effective as quinine.  Unfortunately
  it's current cost is twice as much as for quinine, which in Africa and Asia
  makes it too costly for many people to buy.  Yet drug companies are reluctant
  to invest much because the use of artemether has already been described in
  the scientific literature.  The current hopes are that drugs related to
  artemether can be found that could be patented, yet sold at a more reasonable
      These issues of drug rights, profit levels and developing country needs
  will continue to be thrashed out in public and the courts.
  Greg Aharonian
  Internet Patent News Service
  P.O. Box 404, Belmont, MA, 02178
  617-489-3727,  patents@world.std.com
  (for info on free subscription, send 'help' to   patents@world.std.com )
  Patent      5,401,504
  Title       Use of turmeric in wound healing 
  Assignee    University of Mississippi Medical Center (Jackson, MS).
  Filed       Dec. 28, 1993
     Method of promoting healing of a wound by administering turmeric to a
     patient afflicted with the wound.
                             6 Claims, No Drawings 
  Intl. Cl.   A61K 35/78
  U.S.  Cl.   424/195.1; 514/925; 514/926; 514/927; 514/928
  U.S. Patent Documents
     4,719,111    Jan. 1988    Wilson 424/195.1
     5,120,538    Jun. 1992    Oei    424/195.1
     5,252,344    Oct. 1993    Shi    424/682
  Other References
         Institute GA. 99: 218620T (1983) of JPN. 58-162520 (Ulcer
         Inhibitor Tablets Effective in Mice Contain Carcinogen).
         Soma et al GA. 116: 221612S (1992) of JPN 4-49240 (Digestive Tract
         Ulcers Treated with Curcuma longa (Turmeric) Extract
         Kumar et al GA.119: 871K (1993) of Ind. Vet. J. 70(1):42-4 (1993).
         Abstracts of Charles et al Trop. Geogr. Med: 44(1-2) 178-181 Jan.
         1992; Rafatullah et al J. Ethnopharmacol. 29(1): 25-34 Apr. 1990;
         Kutton et al Tumori 73(1): 29-31 Feb. 28, 1987; Mehra et al. Tokai
         J Etpharm Med 9(1): 27-31 Mar. 1984.