[Ip-health] AFP: MSF slams Bayer for saving drugs for those who can pay

Joanna Keenan-Siciliano joanna.l.keenan at gmail.com
Fri Jan 24 08:28:41 PST 2014

(via The West Australian)
MSF slams Bayer for saving drugs for those who can pay
January 24, 2014, 11:02 pm

New Delhi (AFP) - Global medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres slammed
Friday a statement by Bayer's chief executive that the giant German firm
only developed its cancer drug Nexavar for people who could afford the
medicine, not "for Indians".

India's controller general of patents angered Bayer in March 2012 when he
authorised a local drugmaker to produce a generic copy of Nexavar, saying
the German company charged a price that was too costly for most Indians.

"We did not develop this medicine (Nexavar) for Indians," Dekkers said at a
little reported pharmaceutical forum last month, according to the January
21st edition of Businessweek.

"We developed it for Western patients who can afford it," Dekkers said, and
called the Indian regulator's action "essentially theft".

Bayer said the statements attributed to Dekkers were accurate and forwarded
written comments made later by the German chief executive seeking to
explain his remarks.

Dekkers said the comment had been a "quick response" at the industry forum
to the Nexavar issue and added Bayer wants "all people to share the fruits
of medical progress regardless of their origins or income".

But Dekkers added in the written comments he had been "particularly
frustrated" by the Indian regulator's decision, which marked the first time
a so-called compulsory licence of a patented drug had been awarded in India.

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said Friday that the Bayer chief's remarks
summed up "everything that is wrong" with the multinational pharmaceutical

"Bayer is effectively admitting the drugs they develop are deliberately
going to be rationed to the wealthiest patients," Manica Balasegaram,
executive director of MSF's Access Campaign, said.

The medical charity said big pharmaceutical companies believe "research and
development (R&D) can only be rewarded by a patent and through high prices
to recoup the R&D costs.

"Those who can't afford to pay are basically cut out of the system,"
Balasegaram said.

The Indian government gave local pharmaceutical house Natco Pharma a
licence to produce a copy of Nexavar, used to treat liver and kidney
cancer, at a 97 percent discount to the original selling price of the Bayer
product in India.

Global drugmakers say India's powerhouse generics industry and strict
patent filtering reduce commercial incentives to produce cutting-edge

Joanna Keenan
Press Officer
Médecins Sans Frontières - Access Campaign
P: +41 22 849 87 45
M: +41 79 203 13 02
E: joanna.keenan[at]geneva.msf.org
T: @joanna_keenan


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