Indian board nixes Bayer's bid to stop generic Nexavar

Bayer lost its bid to stop generic Nexavar in its tracks. An Indian patent board denied the drugmaker's petition to stay a compulsory license granted to generics maker Natco Pharma. That means Natco's much-cheaper version of the cancer treatment can stay on the market, at least for now.

The Nexavar fight is playing out as other multinational drugmakers suffer their own intellectual property setbacks in India. Last week, an Indian court backed domestic drugmaker Cipla and its copycat version of Roche's ($RHHBY) Tarceva, saying the Cipla drug was distinct enough to steer clear of Roche's patent. Meanwhile, Novartis ($NVS) is still waiting for the nation's top court to rule on a patent for its cancer drug Glivec. The IP fights threaten to undermine Big Pharma's confidence in India's promise as a growth market.

The German drugmaker had asked the Intellectual Property Appellate Board to hold off Natco's version of Nexavar, as part of its request that IPAB reconsider that compulsory license. The IPAB's overall decision on the compulsory license is expected in a few weeks, Reuters reports.

Bayer claims that the government's intervention on Nexavar was unnecessary. It cited its own discounts for needy patients, but leaned most heavily on another company's cut-rate Nexavar version. India's own Cipla slashed its price on Soranib to undercut even Natco's discounted copy, Bayer pointed out. Natco's price for copycat Nexavar is about $160 per month, while Cipla is now selling its version for $130.

But the IPAB didn't buy that argument. Bayer can't rely on another company's price cuts to justify its own sales, the board said. "The appellant cannot ride piggy-back on, or take shelter under, the sale by Cipla," the board said. "It is the duty of the patentee that its own supply be made available at [a] reasonable price to the requirement of the public."

Bayer's next stop would be India's Supreme Court. It's unclear whether the company will seek redress there. "We are disappointed with the decision of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board to reject the stay petition on the compulsory license granted to Natco for Nexavar," a Bayer spokesman told Reuters, adding that the company intends to rigorously defend its IP rights.

- read the story from The Hindu
- get more from Reuters

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