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.


Published on May 07, 2012

A letter from the Editor

Dear Readers,

The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.

Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.

In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments.

We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day. We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime.

But all this comes at a heavy cost. As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support. I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support.

I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy. You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions. We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.

A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!

Support Quality Journalism
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles for this week. For full access, please subscribe and get unlimited access to all sections.