Companies

Sorafenib: A tale of moves and counter-moves

P.T. Jyothi Datta Mumbai | Updated on November 15, 2017 Published on May 07, 2012

Three drug companies and three prices on their respective versions of Sorafenib, a medicine used to treat advanced kidney cancer.

It is a ‘what happens next' situation similar to a Western film, with three gun-men standing with their guns drawn.

Last Thursday, Cipla slashed prices on its version of Sorafenib, from Rs 27,950 for a patient per month to Rs 6,840.

Patent Controller

On Friday, Bayer approached the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) appealing an earlier decision of the Patent Controller granting the country's first compulsory licence to Natco.

The Patent office's decision, in February, allowed Natco to make its version of Sorafenib, but on payment of royalty to the originator of the medicine – Bayer.

Bayer sells its Sorafenib under the Nexavar brandname at Rs 2.8 lakh a month, and Natco sells its version of the same drug at Rs 8,900.

The order of the Patent Controller damages the international patent system and endangers pharmaceutical research, Bayer said.

The challenges in Indian healthcare “have little or nothing” to do with patents on pharmaceutical products, as all products on India's essential drug list are not patented, it pointed out.

What next?

But the two developments around Sorafenib last week are independent of each other, say industry representatives, and the three companies continue to sell their versions of the drug at their different prices.

Cipla is also fighting a patent-infringement suit on Nexavar in the Delhi High Court, filed against it by Bayer.

Industry watchers point out, if Cipla wins the case, then Bayer's patent does not stand, nor does the CL granted to Natco.

But if Cipla loses this case, they observe: either Cipla would have to fork out a hefty amount as damages for selling a drug when the originator's patent is valid; or in a third scenario – the Court could ask Cipla too, to pay a royalty to patent-holder Bayer, in the interest of patients — given the reduced price at which Cipla sells the medicine.

And therein, lies an insight into the moves and counter-moves around Sorafenib last week.

> jyothi@thehindu.co.in

Published on May 07, 2012

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