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Tuesday, 23 October, 2001, 12:47 GMT 13:47 UK
Bayer beats Canada in anthrax row
A shop in Mexico advertises Cipro
The demand for Cipro has shot up all over the world
The Canadian government has agreed to respect Bayer's patent on anti-anthrax treatment Cipro in North America and will source it only from the German firm until the patent expires.

Technician at Apotex in Toronto
A technician holds up a newly-made ciprofloxacin tablet at Apotex
The government was criticised for ordering generic copies of the pills from Apotex, a Canadian company that has for years tried to break Bayer's patent.

Cipro, the best-known treatment for anthrax, is in huge demand as anthrax scares sweep the world and the number of cases rises in the US.

Canada will now exclusively purchase the active ingredient Ciprofloxacin from Bayer until the patent runs out in 2004, Bayer said.

Patent law

Last week, Bayer said it had "serious doubts" that the government's decision to bulk-buy a generic version of Cipro complied with Canadian patent laws.

The government, which wants to avoid a patent lawsuit by Bayer, agreed to only use generic drugs if Bayer cannot deliver sufficient supplies.

Bayer has provided 200,000 free Cipro tablets for Canadian front-line workers and has promised to deliver one million Cipro tablets within 48 hours of an attack at a cost of $1.30 per pill.

The Canadian company, Apotex, had offered to supply one million generic Cipro tablets by 8 November, at a cost of just under $1 each.

It is unclear if the government will buy and then store a supply of the drug made by Apotex.

See also:

23 Oct 01 | Business
America's anthrax patent dilemma
15 Oct 01 | World
Anthrax fears shake world
09 Oct 01 | Health
Q&A: Anthrax infection
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