ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Strike against Pharma MNCs

The compulsory licence for Nexavar is only the beginning of a new battle over drug prices.

The grant of a compulsory licence (CL) to Natco Pharma, a relatively small Indian pharmaceutical company, to manufacture and sell the cancer drug sorafenib (Nexavar) has been rightly hailed as a major step forward for public health and the wider availability of life saving medicines.

The German pharmaceutical company Bayer holds the patent for Nexavar, which is used in the treatment of liver and kidney cancer, and the drug is sold in the Indian market at Rs 2.88 lakh for a month’s supply of 120 tablets. Natco has said that it will supply the same quantity for Rs 8,880, a reduction of almost 97% in the price. There are said to be close to 1,00,000 patients in India with liver and kidney cancers who can benefit from this medicine but few, even among the rich, can possibly afford to spend Rs 34.5 lakh a year on it.

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