Roche slashes hep C drug price 65% for government clinics in India

Certain government clinics in India will see prices for Roche's ($RHHBY) hepatitis C drug Exxura cut by 65%, according to the Business Standard, citing a local company executive.

A prefilled syringe will cost INR3,250 ($50.76), the newspaper said, quoting V. Simpson Emmanuel, director of market access for Roche's Indian unit.

Access for hep C patients in India and other countries has been the subject of an industry-civil society group spat with companies such as Gilead Sciences ($GILD) making efforts to allow local manufacture and lower costs in India and other countries.

But in May, the Initiative for Medicines, Access and Knowledge (I-MAK) highlighted that countries such as China and Russia have become new targets for compulsory-licensing campaigns for Sovaldi (sofosbuvir).

India has also moved domestically to cut drug prices by looking to expand its essential list for a variety of drugs used in chronic treatments for AIDS and TB.

Roche however is a bit of a late starter in India, and also faces sales pressure on for Pegasys, according to Daniel O'Day, chief operating officer, in the April earnings call.

"Of this franchise, we have about ($)500 million in hep B and that is still growing in the developing world particularly in Asia and has potential to have some growth although at a small scale in Africa," he said. "So I think at some point in time, although I would be cautious on this, I mean we'll continue to have a decline in Pegasys because the hep C business continues to [degrade] over the course of this year."

The company, citing the World Health Organization, said 12 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis C infection in India.

- here's the story from Business Standard