News

    Indian Company Gains Right to Copy Generic Cancer Drug

    India has authorized a domestic pharmaceutical company to manufacture an expensive anti-cancer drug developed by Bayer Corporation. The move undermines Bayer’s patent on the drug, but has been praised by activists because it will make the drug cheaper and more widely available.

    Under the ruling by the controller of patents in Mumbai, the Indian drug company, Natco Pharma, can make a generic copy of Nexavar and sell it for a fraction of the price charged by Bayer.

    The patented drug is used to treat liver and kidney cancer. The Indian company will sell it for about $175 for 120 tablets compared to approximately $5,500 charged by Bayer. It will pay a royalty to Bayer of six percent. 

    The move effectively ends Bayer’s monopoly on the drug. Authorities used a rule under which they can grant a “compulsory license” if a drug is not available at a “reasonably affordable price.” This is the first time India has applied the rule.

    The Indian patent controller says the drug was clearly unaffordable to most of the country because very few patients had used it.

    Bayer had argued that the price should reflect the development cost and not just the public’s buying power. The company has said it is disappointed with the decision and will evaluate its options to defend its intellectual property rights in India.

    The decision has been welcomed by Doctors Without Borders, which campaigns for affordable drugs in poor countries. Leena Menghaney, the group’s manager in New Delhi, says there has to be a balance between intellectual property rights and the right of patients to have access to new and expensive medicines.

    “What it shows with the Indian system that it has an independent mechanism," Menghaney. "If there is a problem with the pricing of a patented medicine, there is a redressal in the system. We have not seen this kind of mechanism work in other developing countries and would encourage South Africa and other countries like Thailand to adopt the system where a competitor can come forward to supply a more affordable generic version.”

    Pharmaceutical analysts say the ruling could set a precedent for other expensive medicines to be licensed to local companies.

    They say that it will be a setback for the multinational drug industry in India. The world’s big drug companies argue that they rely on intellectual property protection to fund the high cost of research. The industry has been pushing for stronger patent protections and rules to clamp down on the Indian generics industry.

    In the past decade, India has been providing cheap, life-saving medicines for patients in poor countries who cannot afford drugs at Western prices to treat diseases like HIV and malaria. Most of these are generic copies of drugs protected by patents in the United States and Europe.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Paddy O
    March 13, 2012 12:58 PM
    Bayer would have been better off just offering it for cheaper in India. Certainly the research costs are fully recouped in the west. With losing control of the patent, they will now have to face the possibility of unauthorized manufacturers exporting it (either illicitly or not) and thus, wiping out even more potential profits. I'm surprised such a gross failure in risk management would occur at a major German company like this.

    by: Sharman
    March 13, 2012 12:42 PM
    Very few people may know that it is Bayer company that sold Methyl Parathion and Ediphenphose deadly toxic crop pesticides in India till 2005 while those were banned in Europe and US many many years ago due to its harmful effects. Every year people got intoxicated and dying in India and Bayer kept on harvesting the highest profits out of these products.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora