Natco Pharma's generic version of Bayer's Nexavar has hit the market in India, a gift to poor Indians from the government patent office in a move threatening international repercussions.
A Natco executive tells The Hindu Business Line that the drug is now on the market. The pill, used for treating advanced kidney cancer, was made available to Natco and other Indian generic drugmakers in a controversial ruling in which the government ordered its first "compulsory patent." Basically it says that need and the high price of Nexavar make it medically necessary for Bayer to allow others to make a generic version of the pricey cancer med. Natco is selling it for $170 a month, compared with Bayer's $5,000 a month price. Cipla has said it will offer it at $130 a month.
Bayer has appealed the ruling and last week the U.S. threatened to take India before a World Trade Organization panel for its actions. Those are not the only actions challenging how India's patent laws threaten pharmaceuticals.
A high-profile case challenging a section of Indian patent law that says "a modification of a known chemical composition is non-patentable," has been postponed to Aug. 22 at the request of Novartis ($NVS), Pharma Times reports. The fight involves the Swiss drugmaker's groundbreaking cancer treatment Gleevec, which India's patent officials deemed unworthy of market exclusivity. The case not only determines the fate of Gleevec--and the patients who need it--but could affect access to HIV drugs and other treatments now produced and sold at low cost.