The Makati Regional Trial Court has dismissed a patent infringement case filed by a multi-national company against two pharmaceutical firms—Sahar and Suhitas.
At the same time, it ordered Merck Canada to return all documents and items that belong to Sahar within 10 days which were confiscated based on a Search and Seizure Order implemented on October 11, 2013
Sahar spokesman Mack Macalanggan welcomed the decision, saying on Thursday that “it was a victory for Republic Act (RA) 9502 or the Universally Accessible Cheaper and Quality Medicines Act of 2008.
The court dismissed the case against the two firms on the ground of “forum shopping” after Merck, through its law firm Sapalo Velez Bundang & Bulilan, filed another case similar in nature before the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), a quasi-judicial body.
The IPO initially dismissed the patent infringement case for pain reliever drugs Xibra and Torico imported and distributed by Sahar and Suhitas, but later reversed its decision.
In its order, the court stated, “The plaintiff in this case filed a patent infringement and damages with application for preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order before the Intellectual Property Office with Case No. 10-2014-00017.”
“The same patent, Philippine Patent No. 1-1997-57253 issued on November 8, 2005 is the subject of a complaint filed before the IPO office. Therefore, this court can conclude that the same or similar action or claim has been filed or is pending, which shall be caused for dismissal of the case without prejudice.”
Macalanggan, in a statement onThursday, said the ruling underscored efforts being undertaken by small pharmaceutical firms to distribute and sell quality but affordable drugs to Filipinos as part of their constitutional right to health.
“Congress has realigned some legal measures in providing such right to citizens by crafting RA 9502, but there are many challenges that come our way such as the patent issue. The accessibility of cheap but quality drugs is our first and foremost concern, especially for the poor citizens who cannot afford expensive medicines,” he added.