India Moves to Grant Three More Compulsory Licenses for Cancer Medications Based on Cost
Posted 03 May 2013 | By
India's Union Health Ministry is pursuing three more compulsory licenses that would allow generic manufacturers in the country to compete with patent-protected medicines, including Roche's Herceptin and Bristol-Myers Squibb's Sprycel and Ixabepilone, reports PharmaBiz.
The announcement comes just months after the country's Supreme Court issued a landmark compulsory license for Bayer's Nexavar (sorafenib). What made that decision so remarkable to both critics and proponents of the ruling was that it was predicated not on public health, as compulsory licenses are supposed to be, but rather on the high cost of the drug and the price's effect on access.
At the time of that decision in September 2012, some analysts predicted it could lead to further compulsory licenses being sought and granted-a prediction that now seems increasingly accurate.
As explained by PharmaBiz, the decision is being sought after an inter-ministerial committee recommended the compulsory licenses be granted as the result of the cost of the reference drugs. All three drugs, like Nexavar, are therapies for cancer, and are notoriously expensive, even for Western audiences. In India, where the average income is considerably lower than in the US, the cost can be especially prohibitive.
Dasatinib, for example, costs around 168,000 Indian rupees per year, reports Pharmabiz. That's roughly $3,100 USD at the current exchange rate. The per capita income of the average Indian, meanwhile, is around $1,250 per year, placing the medication far out of reach for most Indians. A generic competitor is reportedly ready to sell the same medicine for just $150 per year.
Attempts to confirm the announcement were unsuccessful on account of the Union Health Ministry's website experiencing technical difficulties that rendered it unable to respond.