India warns Egyptian companies claiming to have Sovaldi for sale

Companies in Egypt have been advertising Indian-made versions of Gilead Sciences' ($GILD) hepatitis C cure Sovaldi for sale. The problem is, none of the 7 drugmakers that were granted the right to produce the drug, 6 of them Indian companies, have gotten past development with the product. That suggests that whatever is being sold in Egypt is not really generic Sovaldi.

The Indian government said in a statement that it has been brought to its attention that some Egyptian companies "are claiming that their Sovaldi products are being produced in India," the Economic Times reports. The government warned that the companies appear to be acting illegally and might face legal action.

This year, Gilead negotiated deals with India's Cipla, Cadila, Hetero, Ranbaxy, Strides Arcolab, Sequent Scientific, and U.S.-based Mylan Laboratories ($MYL) to manufacture generic versions of its hepatitis C cures, Sovaldi and cocktail pill Harvoni. They were granted rights to sell it in 80 developing countries at a fraction of the $84,000 regimen cost for Sovaldi and $95,000 cost for Harvoni in the U.S. Among the countries that will get the generics in addition to India are Indonesia, Pakistan, South Africa, Vietnam and Egypt.

Citing World Health Organization statistics, the newspaper said Egypt has the highest rate of hep C in the world, with 14% of the population infected. That is about 11.8 million patients, and 170,000 to 200,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, it said.

Counterfeits of high-cost, high-demand drugs are a growing problem. In September, Roche ($RHHBY) said that counterfeit vials of its top-selling blood cancer drug MabThera had been found in Germany. MabThera, sold as Rituxan in the U.S., is Roche's best-selling drug and the best-selling cancer drug in the world, with 2013 revenues of $7.78 billion. Earlier in the year, fakes of Roche's Herceptin cancer drug were found in several countries in Europe.

- read the Economic Times story