Bayer Will Appeal India Compulsory Licence On Its Cancer Drug

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German pharmaceutical manufacturer Bayer has announced it will appeal yesterday’s ruling in India that upheld a compulsory licence on one of its drugs.

“We strongly disagree with the conclusions of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board,” Bayer said in a statement. “Bayer is committed to protecting its patents for Nexavar and will rigorously continue to defend our intellectual property rights within the Indian legal system. We will pursue the case in front of High Court in Mumbai with a writ petition.”

The IPAB ruled yesterday that the Indian government was within its rights in issuing a compulsory licence allowing the manufacture of affordable generic versions of Bayer’s patented drug, with royalties to be paid to Bayer (IPW, 4 March 2013).

Bayer argued that India’s problems of medicines access are due to poor services and infrastructure, not patents, and that the IPAB order “weakens the international patent system and endangers pharmaceutical research.” But it did not deny that the compulsory licence has led to a dramatic dropp in the price of the drug in question, Nexavar, putting it in reach of millions more people in India. But Bayer has had a programme in place since 2008 aimed at reducing the monthly cost of Nexavar for qualified persons, and said that 73 percent of all Nexavar patients were enrolled in the programme.

“The challenges faced by the Indian healthcare system have little or nothing to do with patents on pharmaceutical products as all products on India’s essential drug list are not patented,” Bayer said. “One of the main barriers to access to medicines in developing countries such as India is the lack of adequate healthcare services and infrastructure ensuring that drugs will effectively bring treatment to those who most need it.”

Bayer also described the importance of making medicines expensive in order to repay research and development costs. “The limited period of marketing exclusivity made possible by patents ensures that the costs associated with the research and development of innovative medicines can be recovered,” it said.

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