NEW DELHI (dpa) – India’s Supreme Court rejected German drugmaker Bayer AG’s plea to block production of a cheaper generic version of a patented cancer drug, in a ruling that ensures the medicine will be affordable for local patients.
The Bombay High Court in July refused to revoke a compulsory licence issued to Indian generics group Natco Pharma to sell a version of Bayer’s Nexavar for about 175 dollars for a month’s supply, compared to the 5,500 dollars charged by the German drug-firm.
Bayer challenged the ruling but a Supreme Court bench rejected the appeal on Friday, the Economic Times reported.
India’s Patent Office had in 2012 allowed Natco to make and sell Nexavar.
The authority invoked an Indian law, recognised under the World Trade Organization provisions, which empowers the government to ensure that medicines are available to patients at affordable rates.
Nexavar is used to treat renal and liver cancer. India has around 29,000 cases of liver and kidney cancer each year. Bayer said it was “disappointed with the decision” and was analysing the order to determine the future course of action, according to the Times of India.
The case was keenly watched by several other foreign pharmaceutical companies owing to the implications of the ruling on their patented drugs in India.
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) welcomed the decision, saying Natco’s production of Nexavar had brought down its prices as much as 97 per cent.
“We applaud this heartening news, which reaffirms India’s critical role in forging a new and progressive path in balancing intellectual property and public health,” MSF said.