to be approved by the FIPB.
Under the new rule, whosoever acquires an Indian firm producing essential drugs will have to continue to manufacture them till the Competition Commission of India is empowered to take a view on such mergers and acquisitions.
In October 2011, a ministerial group headed by the Prime Minister had put foreign investment in brown-field pharma on approval route, changing a 10-year-old policy of automatic clearance.
In the face of the restrictions, Orchid Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals sold various assets, including active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) business and a R&D facility
to the US-based Hospira Inc for USD 200 million (nearly Rs 1,112 crore).
Further, Ahmedabad-based Claris Lifesciences divested 80 per cent stake in its infusion business for Rs 1,050 crore and entered into a tripartite joint venture with two Japanese firms -- Otsuka Pharmaceutical Factory (OPF) and Mitsui & Co Ltd for the same.
Earlier in the year, Bangalore-headquartered Strides Arcolab sold its entire stake in Australian subsidiary Ascent Pharmahealth to Watson Pharmaceuticals for 375 million Australian dollars (over Rs 1,960 crore).
The year 2012, also marked India cracking down on patents held by multinational firms. In a first, the government invoked compulsory licensing in March to allow Hyderabad-based Natco Pharma to manufacture and sell cancer-treatment drug Nexavar at a price, over 30 times lower than what Bayer charged for its patented Nexavar drug.
Natco was allowed to sell the generic copy of the drug at Rs 8,880 for a pack of 120 tablets required for a month's treatment as compared to a whopping Rs 2.80 lakh per month by Bayer.
The Indian Patents Office revoked Pfizer's patent of cancer drug Sutent following opposition by domestic firm Cipla. In another case, the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) turned down drug firm AstraZeneca's plea for a patent on the lung cancer drug Gefitinib citing lack of invention.
Similarly, in December the Indian Patents Office revoked a patent for an asthma drug held by US-based Merck & Co following a challenge from domestic pharma firm Cipla.
As for one of India's leading pharmaceuticals firm Ranbaxy Laboratories, 2012 was a mixed year. The firm signed a consent decree in