MUMBAI: In a landmark decision that could set a precedent on how life-saving drugs under patents can be made affordable, the government has allowed a domestic company, Natco Pharma, to manufacture a copycat version of Bayer's patented anti-cancer drug, Nexavar, bringing down its price by 97%.
In the first-ever case of compulsory licencing approval, the Indian Patent Office on Monday cleared the application of Hyderabad's Natco Pharma to sell generic drug Nexavar, used for renal and liver cancer, at Rs 8,880 (around $175) for a 120-capsule pack for a month's therapy. Bayer offers it for over Rs 2.8 lakh (roughly $5,500) per 120 capsule. The order provides hope for patients who cannot afford these drugs.
The approval paves the way for the launch of Natco's drug in the market, a company official told TOI, adding that it will pay a 6% royalty on net sales every quarter to Bayer. The licence will be valid till such time the drug's patent is valid, i.e. 2020. As per the CL (compulsory licence) order, Natco is also committed to donating free supplies of the medicines to 600 patients each year.
Bayer said it was "disappointed" and would "evaluate options to defend intellectual property rights" in the country. In July 2011, Natco had applied for the CL in the Mumbai patent office to make Sorafenib Tosylate for which Bayer has a patent in the country since 2008.