"On Monday, the Indian Patent Office effectively ended [German drug maker] Bayer's monopoly for its [cancer drug] Nexavar and issued its first-ever compulsory license allowing local generic maker Natco Pharma to make and sell the drug cheaply in India," Reuters reports. "India's move to strip ... Bayer of its exclusive rights to [Nexavar] has set a precedent that could extend to other treatments, including modern HIV/AIDS drugs, in a major blow to global pharmaceutical firms, experts say," the news service writes, noting, "It is only the second time a nation has issued a compulsory license for a cancer drug after Thailand did so on four drugs between 2006 and 2008." Thailand also has issued compulsory licenses for HIV/AIDS and heart disease medications, according to Reuters (Kulkarni/Foy, 3/13).
"Legal specialists and patient advocates said it could open the door to a flood of other compulsory licenses in India and possibly in other developing countries, creating a new supply of cheap generic drugs," the New York Times writes (Bajaj/Pollack, 3/12). "The decision comes as India is negotiating a new trade agreement with the European Union in which intellectual property for pharmaceuticals has been a contentious issue. Granting the compulsory license reflects Indian authorities' attempt to balance companies' intellectual property rights against the rights of patients to get access to new and expensive medicines that are seeking patents for sale here," the Wall Street Journal writes (Anand/Ahmed, 3/13). The Associated Press/Washington Post provides a summary box on the issue (3/12).
This article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.