In just six months after drug-maker Cipla slashed prices on three cancer drugs, the company has done it again.

In an effort that will bring some relief to cancer patients, Cipla has halved, and in some cases cut prices over 60 per cent, on three more anti-cancer drugs - Erlotinib (ERLOCIP), Docetaxel (DOCETAX) and Capecitabine (CAPEGARD).

These drugs are used to treat lung and pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, head and neck cancer, gastric cancer, bladder, colorectal and colon cancers, the company said.

Cipla chief Dr Y.K. Hamied told Business Line that such a reduction was possible because of backward integration, and the company has opened a new factory in Bangalore, dedicated to making raw-materials for anti-cancer drugs.

Further, he added, patent-related cases that local companies such as Natco and Cipla are winning in the courts have been a game-changer. Earlier when Indian companies sold drugs at low prices, doctors and patients suspected their quality. But with domestic companies winning cases in courts, it has changed the reality on the ground and paved the way to bring down prices, he said.

“What Cipla has done is to show the power and magnitude of monopoly. Through the court cases it has been able to legally break this monopoly,” he said, repeating his plea to the Government for a pragmatic compulsory licensing system.

“I should have the automatic right to copy any product and pay a 4 per cent royalty (to the originator of the drug),” he said, in the interest of making medicines affordable for patients.

In May, Cipla had slashed prices on Sorafenib (SORANIB), Gefitinib (GEFTICIP) and Temozolomide (TEMOSIDE).

jyothidatta@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on November 8, 2012)
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