Intellectual Thoughts by Sanjay Panda

Roche to sell cheaper cancer drugs in India

Just days after officials in India stripped Bayer of its exclusive rights to Nexavar, giving a local company NATCO the right to produce it at a deep discount,

Roche has stepped up with plans to slash the cost of two of its blockbuster cancer drugs.  Herceptin and MabThera will be offered in cheaper new versions from an Indian partner.

Indian Patent office invokes compulsory licensing rule, Natco to sell generic version of Nexvar

Bayer has lost a landmark drug ruling in India, forcing it to grant a compulsory licence for its cancer treatment Nexavar to Natco Pharma in a move that could bring down the cost of other pricey medicines.

The Indian Patent Office issued its first ever compulsory licence to Natco, a local generic drug manufacturer, effectively ending the German drugmaker's monopoly in India on the drug for treating kidney and liver cancer. Natco has been allowed to sell the drug at a price not exceeding 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 charged by Bayer for its patented Nexavar drug.

As per WTO agreement, a compulsory license can be invoked by a national government allowing someone else to produce a patented product or process without the consent of the patent owner. It is done for the cause of public health. The move, however, will unnerve international pharmaceutical companies. They are eyeing emerging markets like India as a major growth opportunity but remain worried about intellectual property protection in such countries.