Indian company says compulsory license use has cost country $10B in potential investments

Hetero Pharma's director adopted a heretical position in the local pharmaceutical industry when he said use of the compulsory licensing (CL) process has cost India $10 billion in potential investments.

Director Srinivas Reddy said in an interview with Economic Times that the reason for granting the first CL to Natco Pharma ostensibly was to make Bayer's kidney cancer drug Nexavar (sorafenib) more affordable, fulfilling a public interest.

"Very few patients were treated for the disease," he said, and it "did not add much to Natco's revenues." Instead, he said, issuance of the CL discouraged potential investors concerned with the protection of intellectual property.

Rather than invoke the CL, Reddy said, India's regulators should negotiate with multinational drugmakers to reduce the prices for their lifesaving drugs. He called for full IP protection for pharmaceuticals.

By taking a voluntary license from Roche ($RHHBY) for its swine influenza drug even though its India patent had expired, Hetero made out much better than it would have with a CL. It was also one of the India generics makers that licensed Gilead Pharma's ($GILD) tenofovir (Viread), enabling Hetero to claim 30% of the world HIV market.

Reddy said his company has "gained immensely" from its partnerships, which often include scientific help. The secret, he said, is access to markets that are beyond any CL.

- here's the story from Economic Times