ALM Properties, Inc.
Page printed from: Corporate Counsel
Select 'Print' in your browser menu to print this document.
India Patent Ruling on Cancer Drug a Blow to Bayer AG
Big Pharma was dealt a heavy blow in the battle over compulsory licensing Monday, when Indias patent appeals board ruled that a domestic generic drug maker could continue to make and sell a low-priced copy of Nexavar, a cancer medication patented by Bayer AG. It was the first time the Indian patent authority confirmed that the use of compulsory licensing in India was legal.
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) welcomed the decision, however. It sets an important precedent, said Judit Rius, MSFs access campaign manager in the U.S. It confirms that the Indian government has tools available to legally grant compulsory licenses.
MSF is hoping the decision will lead to more compulsory licenses being issued for other drugs that are now patented in India but are too expensive for most patients. We hope to see licenses for new and important drugs that treat HIV-AIDS, tuberculosis, hepatitis, and malaria, she said.
Ruit said Indias generic drug makers are known for their ability to produce and market effective generics for a fraction of the cost of the Big Pharma companies that developed the drugs, and noted that the country provides more than 80 percent of all medicines sold in developing nations. India is the pharmacy of the developing world, she said.
This is exactly what multinational pharmaceutical companies fear. While this is the first case of a compulsory license in India, drug makers are worried about their patents in India for other reasons. The country has already revoked some patents granted to Pfizer, Roche Holding AG, and Merck & Co., for example. And it rejected Swiss drug maker Novartiss patent application for the leukemia drug Glivec. Novartis appealed that ruling, and has been awaiting a ruling from the Indian Supreme Court. That ruling could come soon.