Protecting IP Rights of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers
The cooperation between foreign pharmaceutical manufacturers and the
governmental authorities is proved to be an efficient way of
protecting their intellectual property rights in China.
In April and May of 2004, several multinational drug makers who have huge interests in the Chinese market, including US-based Eli Lilly and Pfizer, UK-based GlaxoSmithKline and Germany-based Bayer, cooperated with the governmental authorities in conducting seven operations to crackdown counterfeit drugs. Totally, counterfeit drugs with estimated market value of US$8 million were seized.
Statistics show that in the year of 2003, totally 994 manufacturers and distributors of counterfeit drugs were ordered to cease operations, and counterfeit drugs and facilities used to produce counterfeit drugs with estimated market value of US$60 million were seized.
A total of 276 cases were transferred to the competent judicial authorities for criminal investigations and 48 people were found guilty and received criminal penalties. In addition, 217 registration certificates for medical devices and 134 manufacturing licenses for medical devices were revoked.
A recent move is the cooperation between Pfizer and Shanghai Municipal Food and Drug Administration in operations to crackdown counterfeit drugs in the local market.
Incomplete statistics show that the Chinese Patent Office received 2,415 patent applications for pharmaceuticals in 1993, when the Chinese Patent Law was revised to provide protection for pharmaceuticals, and thereafter, the number of such applications kept growing, reaching a peak of 8,564 in 2000. Foreign pharmaceutical companies filed most of such applications.
Domestic companies manufacturing traditional Chinese medicines were also challenged strongly by their foreign counterparts. The number of patent applications for inventions relating to traditional Chinese medicine filed by foreign pharmaceutical manufacturers has been increasing since 1994. Conversely, the number of such applications filed by domestic companies is decreasing.