[Ip-health] The Indian Express: Govt moves to make three key cancer drugs cheaper

Malini Aisola malini.aisola at gmail.com
Fri Jan 11 22:43:28 PST 2013


Govt moves to make three key cancer drugs cheaper

Abantika Ghosh : New Delhi, Sat Jan 12 2013, 10:15 hrs

In a move that will benefit thousands of cancer patients but is likely to
upset pharma MNCs, the Department of Pharmaceuticals has started the
process of issuing compulsory licences for three commonly used anti-cancer
drugs, Trastuzumab (or Herceptin, used for breast cancer), Ixabepilone
(used for chemotherapy) and Dasatinib (used to treat leukaemia).

Compulsory licensing (CL) by the government allows a domestic company to
manufacture and sell a generic version of a patented drug with or without
the consent of the patent-holder. Sections 84 and 92 of the Indian Patents
Act, 1970, provide for CL in cases where the patented drug is unavailable,
unaffordable, or if there are problems with its supply in India. CL reduces
the price of a drug manifold, and is a practice in many developing

The first drug to be issued a compulsory licence in India was Bayer’s
Nexavar (sorafenib tosylate), a drug for liver cancer, last August. After
the CL, Nexavar is available for Rs 8,880 per pack of 120 tablets (a
month’s dose), over 95% cheaper than its pre-CL price.

Trastuzumab, Ixabepilone and Dasatinib are all more expensive that Nexavar,
costing Rs 50,000, Rs 70,000-80,000 and Rs 15,000 respectively for a
month’s dose.

Officials at the Department of Pharmaceuticals said it was too early to
predict the post-CL price of these drugs. Dr Shyam Aggarwal, consultant
oncologist at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, said, “Even after the recent cut in
the prices of Trastuzumab and Dasatinib, they are still way too expensive
for the common man. It is a very good move and will not just benefit
Indians but possibly also bring down cancer drug prices in countries where
the pharma market is not controlled by the US and western European nations.”

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