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Pfizer to appeal India decision to revoke cancer drug patent

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Pfizer Ltd, the India unit of U.S. drugmaker Pfizer Inc, will challenge the country's patent office for revoking a patent for its cancer drug Sutent.

The company, which will appeal before the Intellectual Property Appellate Board, said on Friday the Indian Patent Office's decision raised concerns over India's commitment to protect intellectual property.

"We believe the decision undermines intellectual property rights in India and we will vigorously defend our basic Sutent patent," Jazz Tobaccowalla, managing director of Pfizer India, said in a statement.

The decision is the latest tussle between Big Pharma and India, following a move by the patent office in March to strip Germany's Bayer AG of its exclusive right to sell another cancer drug, Nexavar. Bayer has challenged that decision.

In September, the Delhi High Court ruled in favor of local drugmaker Cipla Ltd in a patent infringement case filed by Switzerland's Roche Holding AG over Cipla's cancer drug Erlocip.

India's $12 billion drug market is seen by major Western drugmakers as a huge opportunity, but they are wary of the level of protection for intellectual property in a country where generic medicines account for more than 90 percent of sales.

(Reporting by Kaustubh Kulkarni and Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Prateek Chatterjee)

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