Statement |

Bayer compulsory licence hearing concludes - judgment awaited

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has learnt that the hearing into German pharmaceutical company Bayer’s appeal over the grant of a compulsory licence concluded late yesterday in India’s Intellectual Property Appellate Board in Chennai. The judgment order will be issued in the coming weeks.

At the hearings which commenced Monday, Bayer was attempting to overturn the decision made by India’s Patent Controller in March to allow generic competition and production – by issuing a ‘compulsory licence’ – of a more affordable version of an unaffordable Bayer liver and kidney cancer drug, sorafenib tosylate.

“With the hearing now concluded, we must wait to see what the outcome is”, said Leena Menghaney, Campaign Manager in India for MSF’s Access Campaign. “We sincerely hope the Appellate Board will uphold the decision to grant a compulsory licence. It’s an important precedent for us”

As people living with HIV develop drug resistance and need to be switched to more expensive newer treatment in its medical projects, MSF expressed hope that the grant of compulsory licences in India would open up access to affordable generic versions of expensive HIV medicines currently under patent.

The Patent Controller found that Bayer had made the drug available only to a small percentage of eligible patients (around two percent), which did not meet the requirements of the public. The price of Rs 280,000 per month (approximately US$5,500) was not "reasonably affordable."

The compulsory licence achieved its objective with the price of sorefanib tosylate coming down by 97 per cent in the Indian market from over US$5,500 per month to $175 per month.