Bayer loses patent fight in India

Posted on 4 Mar 2013

Pharmaceutical firm Bayer has lost its legal fight to overturn the Indian government’s decision to allow Natco Pharma to produce its cancer drug Nexavar under compulsory licence.

The Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) in Chennai upheld the landmark decision made last March by the comptroller of patents citing the high cost of the medication.

Nexavar is used in the treatment of liver and kidney cancer and was sold by Bayer for Rs.280,000 (£3,380) per month while Natco is selling the drug for only Rs. 6,840 (£83) a month.

Natco will pay Bayer, Germany’s largest pharmaceutical company, a seven percent royalty rate on all the drugs they sell. The percentage was raised from six percent royalties by the IPAB.

“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” said Bayer. The company have stated that they intend to take the case to the Indian high court.

The compulsory license is recognised by the World Trade Organisation and is a tool used by governments to allow a company to manufacture a patented drug, without the consent of the innovator company.

Under the global Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement, countries can issue these licences on drugs that are deemed unaffordable to a large section of their populations.

Charities working in India were relieved by the decision. Medecins sans Frontieres said: “the decision confirms that the Indian patent office is able to use all the means legally at its disposal to check the abuse of patents and open up access to affordable versions of patented medicines.”


Follow Harry Dalton on Twitter