Bayer slams Indian government, Cipla on Nexavar copies

Bayer won't let Nexavar go gently into the Indian generics pool. Since the Indian government yanked its exclusivity on the cancer drug, allowing domestic player Natco Pharma to launch a competing version at a fraction of the price, the German company is fighting back.

Since India issued its compulsory-licensing order, Natco has launched its version at $170 per month, compared with Nexavar's list price of more than $5,000 per month (Bayer says it offers a patient-access program to broaden availability). Last week, Cipla priced its Nexavar copy at $130 per month, undercutting Bayer even further. As Reuters reports, Bayer has now sued Cipla for patent infringement.

"We strongly disagree with the conclusions of the Patent Controller of India and have appealed his order with the Intellectual Property Appellate Board," Bayer told Live Mint, adding that the government's order "damages the international patent system and endangers pharmaceutical research."

Nexavar is the first drug to fall prey to compulsory licensing in India. The World Health Organization outlines a procedure for forcing generics onto the market in countries where lifesaving drugs are priced out of reach. Other countries have used the tactic; in India, patent law provides for compulsory licensing under certain prescribed circumstances. Natco has been fighting for a Nexavar license since last January.

- read the Live Mint piece
- check out the Reuters story