Letter from CIPLA to GlaxoWellcome:
Intellectual Property Rights on Lamivudine and Zidovudine

December 19, 2000

Mr G G Brereton
Head of Patents
Global Intellectual Property Department
Glaxo Wellcome House
Berkeley Avenue, Middlesex, UB6 ONN
United Kingdom

Dear Sir,

CIPLA seeks to sell products for the treatment of HIV and related illnesses, including those containing lamivudine and zidovudine. You have contacted CIPLA in the past asserting intellectual property rights in such products in certain countries. As you know, the high prices for HIV/AIDS medicines have made it impossible for millions of persons in developing countries to obtain access to medicines, contributing to widespread suffering and death. CIPLA seeks to provide a competitive product, with the expectation that competition will drive prices down, benefitting patients and saving lives. To this end, CIPLA requests a timely response to the following items:

  1. Please provide list of countries where Glaxowellcome asserts intellectual property rights in products containing lamivudine or zidovudine, with a description of the property rights.

  2. For those countries where Glaxowellcome has patents or other intellectual property rights for products containing lamivudine or zidovudine, CIPLA requests a non-exclusive voluntary license.

Depending upon the nature of Glaxowellcome's property rights in the each country, CIPLA is willing to pay royalties as high as 5 percent of net sales, for example, in countries where Glaxowellcome has patents similar to those granted in the United States or the UK. (In countries where Glaxowellcome has substantially lesser intellectual property claims, for example, in countries where Glaxowellcome did not file for a "use" patent for AZT, CIPLA would negotiate an appropriate royalty that reflects the value of the IPR in the product.)

According to a February 2000 submission to the United States Trade Representative (USTR) by the US trade group PhRMA, five percent is the "approximate the average pharmaceutical royalty rate," and given the human tragedy unfolding the developing countries over the lack of access to medicines for HIV AIDS, the "average" royalty is surely adequate for the world's poor.

Given the urgency of the public health crisis, we ask for a response to this request by January 25, 2000.

Yours sincerely,
For Cipla Limited

Amar Lulla