E N F O R C E M E N T   AND   C O M P L I A N C E

ITA Ensures Patent Rights Protection in Oman

The Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration’s (ITA) helped the Indianapolis, Indiana based U.S. pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly, overcome patent infringement that would have harmed the company’s market share in Oman, a member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

Why it Matters

If the United States Government had not helped to ensure that the Government of Oman honored the GCC’s patent for Eli Lilly’s product, Zyprexa, the company would have lost significant, if not all, market share in Oman. Moreover, the purchase of a generic drug would have set a dangerous precedent for IPR protection in other countries that are also party to the GCC patent obligations, i.e., Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Flag of Oman

The Problem

In July 2011, the Omani Ministry of Health announced plans to purchase olanzapine, a generic drug used to treat schizophrenia. The Omani Ministry of Health claimed that because Zyprexa, Eli Lilly’s branded version of olanzapine, had a U.S. patent that would expire in fall 2011, the GCC patent for Eli Lilly’s Zyprexa would no longer apply. As a founding GCC member, Oman is required to abide by GCC patents. Eli Lilly correctly noted that the GCC’s patent for Zyprexa still applied in Oman despite the end of the U.S. patent.

The Solution

ITA, working with other U.S. government agencies, alerted Omani officials that Oman would potentially breach its patent responsibilities, and facilitated meetings between Eli Lilly representatives in the region and Omani authorities. As a result of this government and private sector cooperative approach, Omani officials reversed their course and did not break their patent obligations by purchasing the generic olanzapine. After resolving this issue, Eli Lilly’s Director of International Government Affairs, stated that, “I am 100% certain that this result would not have been achieved without the support of the U.S. Embassy and support from Washington. Each of you contributed to [this] effort.”