[Ip-health] Press Release: Compulsory License for anti-cancer drugs – Update from Campaign for Affordable Trastuzumab

Malini Aisola malini.aisola at gmail.com
Sat Jan 12 09:23:00 PST 2013


Press Release: Compulsory License for anti-cancer drugs – Update from
Campaign for Affordable Trastuzumab

by donttradeourlivesaway

15 January 2013, NEW DELHI

The Campaign for Affordable Trastuzumab welcomes the news that the
Government of India has started the process of issuing compulsory licences
for the manufacture of biosimilars of three cancer drugs – Trastuzumab,
Dasatinib and Ixabepilone.Govt moves to make three key cancer drugs
cheaper, 12 Jan 13, New Delhi, Indian Express [

This move will come as a huge relief to the thousands of women with HER2+
breast cancer whose lives can be saved by Trastuzumab, but who are unable
to access this drug because of predatory pricing by Roche, which currently
controls the drug.  A full course of Tratsuzumab treatment costs Rs.6 lakhs
to Rs. 8 lakhs at current prices.

Compulsory licensing for the production of biosimilars would result in
significant price reductions. For instance, the price of Sorafenib came
down by 97% (from Rs.2.8 lakhs to Rs 8,800 per month) after a compulsory
licence was issued to an Indian company in Mach 2012.

In November 2012, the Campaign for Affordable Trastuzumab wrote an open
letter to the Prime Minister, signed by around 200 cancer survivors,
women’s groups, human rights and health rights campaigns and treatment
activists from around the world, urging the government to make the drug
affordable and freely available to patients.

See here [
copy of the letter.

“Drug companies are holding our health hostage to their greed for profits”
said Kalyani Menon-Sen, campaign coordinator.  “Roche should not be allowed
to get away with such a predatory pricing policy. Courts and other
authorities like the Competition Commission must take suo moto action
against Roche for abusing its dominant position in the market.”

Breast cancer remains one of the leading causes of cancer death in women
world-wide and is now the most common form of cancer in urban areas in
India. In a worrying trend, ICMR data show that younger women are showing
an increased incidence of the aggressive HER2+ type of breast cancer.
 Trastuzumab, often referred to as a wonder drug, substantially reduces
mortality for women with early stage HER2 positive breast cancer and
increases survival time among women whose breast cancer has spread. No
other cancer drug can be substituted to attain this effect.

In a related development, a global group of health activists has moved the
WHO for the inclusion of Trastuzumab in the WHO’s Model List of Essential
Medicines (EML) for early stage breast cancer and metastatic cancers. An
official submission which lays down the rationale for qualifying
Trastuzumab as an essential medicine is now under review. If accepted, this
would be a powerful lever for making Trastuzumab affordable and widely
available in developing countries.

Check the submission here [

Given this clear indication by the Government of India of its willingness
to resist pressure from global big pharma, the Campaign for Affordable
Trastuzumab calls on the Indian pharmaceutical industry to rise to the
challenge and hasten the process of developing and testing biosimilars of

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