Compulsory licensing effect: Cipla slashes price of generic cancer drug by 80%!

Generic drugCipla, one of the biggest Indian pharmaceutical companies today announced that they have reduced the price of the generic drug, Soranib from Rs 28,000 to Rs 6,840, a decrease of almost 80%. This move seems to be influenced by the recent compulsory licensing verdict. In March 2012, the patent office issued a compulsory license to Natco that allowed the pharma company to replicate Bayer's Nexavar a blockbuster cancer drug. This resulted in a paradigm shift in the way major pharmaceuticals, Indian or multinational operate in India. The Natco version costs around Rs 8,880 per month whereas the Cipla drug is cheaper at Rs 6,840.

This is not the first pharma company that has been forced to rethink their strategy in India. In March, Swiss pharma giants Roche had announced that they intended sell cut-price versions of two of its blockbuster cancer drugs in India.

Besides Soranib, Cipla also slashed rates of its lung cancer drug Gestinib and a brain tumor drug Temozolamide.

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"This initiative of price reduction is a humanitarian approach by Cipla to support cancer patients," said Y. K. Hamied, Chairman and MD, Cipla. "Drugs constitute a significant proportion of the overall cost of cancer treatment and reduction in costs can greatly relieve the burden."

Cipla has reduced the price of Gefitinib by 59 per cent from Rs 10,200 to Rs 4,250 (for 30 tablets). The price of Temozolamide has been cut for all three strengths. While the price of the 20 mg (milligram) pack has been cut down from Rs 1,875 to Rs 480 (5 capsules), the price of the 100 mg strength has been brought down from Rs 8,900 to Rs 2,400. The price of the 250 mg strength has been cut to Rs 5,000 from a high of Rs 20,250. Cipla added that they might slash the prices of other cancer drugs as well.

However, whether this price slash will really help most Indians is a different matter because even these cut-price rates are too expensive for most Indians.

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