I was just asked if a novel way of applying a known pharmaceutical would be patentable - and I had to admit, I don't know.

As an example, ASS (aspirin) is a known pharmaceutical. The known way of ingesting it includes a pill which is swallowed.

If I found out that crushing said pill and diluting it in water allows introducing the ASS into the body by taking a bath in the pill-water-solution, would that be patentable? And if yes, what aspect of it? Also, I am assuming that diluting a pill in water is not novel, so the patent shouldn't be on a ASS-solution.

Afaik a new use for a known pharmaceutical is patentable, but how about the same use with a different way of ingestion?

Another example - suppose you could apply ASS directly to the brain by laying the pill on your forehead while sleeping - patentable?

And, last question, if diluting a pill in water was known, but not especially for ASS, would the combination of diluting it and taking a bath in it be patentable? I suspect that diluting a pill would be obvious but because of the unexpected performance of doing so and getting the ASS into the body, it might be patentable.

1 Answer 1


If you are referring to novel pharmaceutical formulations, the answer is absolutely yes. The technology behind the preparation of a pill, a solution, an injection, a transdermal patch, are all subjects of patents, even the dosage regime is, if it can be proved that it has some kind of unexpected effect or property. They are products, which contain other staff except aspirin, so by changing the "vehicle" that delivers the drug to the body you may create something novel and patentable.

The patentability of the use of them is a different story. In Europe you are not allowed to claim "methods for treatment of the human or animal body by surgery or therapy and diagnostic methods practised on the human or animal body; this provision shall not apply to products, in particular substances or compositions, for use in any of these methods." (Article 53c EPC). So you are not allowed to claim a method (which is not the case for US), but you are allowed to claim a product for use in treatment of disease Y (see http://www.epo.org/law-practice/legal-texts/html/guidelines/e/g_vi_7_1.htm).

  • It's about ways of administering a known drug - like swallowing eye drops or putting nose spray in your eyes - but without changing the drug/composition and for the same desease. Imho that's not a treatment, nor a new use, so I don't know what it is in patent speech.
    – user18033
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 13:33
  • So it's basically a known drug used against the same symptoms as normally, but administered differently.
    – user18033
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 13:35
  • That seems unpatentalbe under the EPC, because you may patent the product but not the method of treatment. And I don't see how you can claim that without violating A53(c) EPC. Commented May 17, 2017 at 13:56
  • You might be right. Good point
    – user18033
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 15:04

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