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India Rejects Bayer (Farben) Plea against Cheap Cancer Drug

Alex Constantine - March 5, 2013

"... Bayer sells a one month supply of the drug for about $5,600. Natco's version would cost Indian patients $175 a month, less than 1/30th as much. ..."

NEW DELHI (AP) - India's patent appeals office has rejected Bayer AG's plea to stop the production of a cheaper generic version of a patented cancer drug in a ruling that health groups say is an important precedent for getting inexpensive lifesaving medicines to the poor.

Last year, India's patent office allowed local drug manufacturer Natco Pharma Ltd. to produce a generic version of Bayer's kidney and liver cancer drug Nexavar on the grounds it would make the drug available to the public at a reasonably affordable price. It was the first use of compulsory licensing under Indian patent laws passed in 2005.

The Intellectual Property Appellate Board rejected the German drug maker's appeal of the 2012 ruling on Monday. It also ruled that under the license Natco must pay 7 percent in royalties on net sales to Bayer.

Bayer sells a one month supply of the drug for about $5,600. Natco's version would cost Indian patients $175 a month, less than 1/30th as much.

Western pharmaceutical companies have been pushing for stronger patent protections in India to regulate the country's $26 billion generics industry, which they say frequently flouts intellectual property rights.  However, health activists and aid groups counter that Indian generics are a lifesaver for patients in poor countries who cannot afford Western prices to treat diseases such as cancer, malaria and HIV.

Bayer said Tuesday it "strongly" disagreed with the appeal panel's decision and would pursue the case in the high court in India's commercial capital Mumbai.

"Bayer is committed to protecting its patents for Nexavar and will rigorously continue to defend our intellectual property rights within the Indian legal system," the company said in a statement.

It said one of the main barriers to access to medicines in developing countries such as India is the "lack of adequate healthcare services and infrastructure ensuring that drugs will effectively bring treatment to those who most need it."

Health groups welcomed the panel's ruling saying it would check the abuse of patents and open up access to affordable versions of patented medicines.

"The decision means that the way has been paved for compulsory licenses to be issued on other drugs, now patented in India and priced out of affordable reach, to be produced by generic companies and sold at a fraction of the price," said Leena Menghaney of medical humanitarian aid organization Medecins Sans Frontieres.

The decision might encourage Indian drug makers to explore the compulsory license route to manufacturing drugs that are critical in the treatment of HIV patients.

"We have started to switch people we treat for HIV who develop drug resistance on to newer medicines. But these are expensive, which means not everyone who needs the medicine can afford it," said Menghaney.

She said a World Health Organization-recommended drug such as Raltegravir costs nearly $1,800 per person per year, an unaffordable sum for most HIV patients in India.

"We are waiting to see if drug manufacturers will take up the challenge," Menghaney said.

Under World Trade Organization rules, governments have the right to issue compulsory licenses to overcome barriers to access to cheaper versions of a patented drug without the consent of the company that invented the drug.

Several Western pharmaceutical giants say India's 2005 Patent Act fails to guarantee the rights of investors who finance drug research and development.

Bayer said the patent panel's order weakens the international patent system and endangers pharmaceutical research.

"The limited period of marketing exclusivity made possible by patents ensures that the costs associated with the research and development of innovative medicines can be recovered," the company said.

Meanwhile, Swiss drug maker Novartis AG is awaiting a decision by India's Supreme Court on the rejection of patents for its cancer drug Gleevec. That case revolves around a different legal provision allowing India to block "evergreening" - extensions of patents based on minor changes to existing treatments.

The Supreme Court's ruling on the case is expected soon.


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  1. The problem with genetic testing is the one I have always had problems with ethically. That those who are permanently depressed and psychotic due mostly to societal factors beyond their control and also due to brain malnutrition that can be physiologically compensated for should not die and this is why. In the case of unemployeable battering victims whose experience is seen as contrasting with the idea that the US is a nicey, nicey democracy where people care about each other. They have been both victimized by a fascist regime that sees women as subhuman slaves whose lives are supposed to be suborned to their marital partner instead of intelligent, self-determining beings in their own right as God intends. Further, the US is not and never has been an accepting mutually beneficial society according to the Christian ideal, except for ten years when mainstream rightwing amerikkka was apoplectic over their liberation, self-determination, and freedom to live their own lives free of society’s cultural oppressions and narrow-mindedness. There is always the nicey, nicey propaganda facade and then there’s the far more barbaric, slefish, and latently supremacist reality that says,
    Woman since when did we say that you could just quit being the house nigger and suddenly decide to just step out on your own and do what you wanted. Also the nicey , nicey facade hides a far more violent, oppressive, and predatory domestic reality; one where the lives of the wife and the children are forced into being used to benefit and gratify the head of household gratuitously without question, even to the point of hiding abuse and predatory sexual abuse and incest. That is not God, America, and Christianity, that is it’s opposite. While the so-called family values republicans peddle the bullcrap, they push policies both socially and economically that annihilate both a a culture that supports the elderly and disabled in our homes and communities and push policies that actually destroy middle class extended family support and survival safety nets. It is more than hypocrisy, it is outright deception. This is the pattern I noticed over and over during the 80’s; they would make promises that attracted and seduced the base into supporting policies that in actual expression produced the exact opposite of what was promised. They are worse than thieves and liars, they are mass murderers and there is a long history to prove that as well.
    The problem is when they lie and then act on a scale that not only endangers the lives of the dependent vulnerable who are that way through no fault of their own, they also destroy humane cultural norms that protect our society from it’s worst self-centered tendencies. If we have the technology to senf information around the world in a second, it should be no problem to compensate for genetic shortcomings people have through using compensatory health care regimens. Why is that a problem for them? They wanted to hide the real history of the Vietnam war from the people by killing off the veterans; they want to deny the reality of just how violent and malicious our culture by silencing it’s critics and those victimized by it’s sanctioned violence and complete irresponsiblity to those poisoned in their ghastly workplaces. That is why they will end up in hell. Remember the next two biggest lies of the devil; He does not exist and you don’t have to worry about the consequences of your greedy activities because you can lie and buy you way out of taking responsibility for them. That is always what the worst of humanity has always sought to do and that is why they go to hell three days after they are dead.

  2. A study showed conclusively that big pharma profits are NOT justified as R&D. It is just straight ahead theft. Shrekli bought drug license, then raised price up TWELVE TIMES over. Just shamelessly selfish and inhumane. So I asked the GAO to take a drug, say like Gilead’s hep c drugs, and figure out what price is cost plus 7.5% and keep the price down to that. Yes; shameless regulation IS necessary.

  3. And the real selling point for national public single payer health insurance is that it ensures transparency and consequent cost control. I have no problem with subsidized premiums.

  4. Because big pharma would go so far as to take out Mitchell Gaynor in order to try and secure control over gene therapy. Get his book The Gene Therapy Plan. Him, eleven other people and counting recently.

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