Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has learnt that India's Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) in Chennai has postponed hearing the appeal by German pharmaceutical company Bayer over the granting of a compulsory licence to generic company Natco until Monday 3 September.
In March 2012, India issued its first ever compulsory licence allowing Natco to produce more affordable versions of the cancer drug sorafenib tosylate patented by Bayer. India’s Controller of Patents deemed that Bayer had failed to price the drug, marketed as Nexavar, at an affordable level and had made insufficient efforts to make the medicine available.
This landmark move brought the price of the drug down 97 per cent, from over US$5,500 per month to $175 per month. Natco was instructed to pay a six per cent royalty on sales to Bayer. Significantly, the decision potentially opens the way for other drugs patented in India and priced out of reach to be produced by generic makers for use across the developing world at a fraction of the price. New medicines which are now patented in India – which include medicines to treat HIV, for example – are too expensive for those who need them most, meaning a solution to bring these prices down needs to be found urgently.