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Health Ministry recommends compulsory licensing of three anti-cancer drugs

Our Bureau, New Delhi
Friday, May 3, 2013, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

The Union Health Ministry has disclosed that it had recommended three cancer drugs, namely, Trastuzumab, Lxabepilone and Dasatinib to the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion to put them under Compulsory Licensing (CL) under the provisions of the Indian Patents Act, 1970.

Although the administrative Department for the Indian Patents Act, 1970 is the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, constituted an inter-ministerial committee to recommend to put such drugs, which are extremely costly and not affordable, under compulsory licensing under the provisions of the Indian Patents Act, 1970, Union health minister Ghulam Nabi Azad told Rajya Sabha recently.

On the basis of the recommendations of this Committee, the Union Health Ministry has recommended the three cancer drugs to put them under compulsory licensing, the Minister said in a written reply.

“The prices of drugs for many diseases, including cancer, have become extremely unaffordable for the common man in this country, which have also increased the pressures on the public health programmes. Compulsory licences under the Indian Patents Act, 1970 can be issued to generic producers. Generic version of the drugs leads to significant price reductions in developing countries,” he said.

It may be noted that Mumbai-based BDR Pharmaceuticals has already filed application for compulsory licence for anti-cancer drug Dasatinib, patented by pharma major Bristol Myers Squibb. BMS sells Dasatinib at around Rs. 1,68,000  for one month dose, but BDR has promised to sell it at Rs. 8100, it is learnt.

The first application for CL was the one filed by Natco Pharma to sell the cheaper version of Bayer AG’s cancer Drug Nexavar, triggering a highly-watched legal battle. The Indian company was granted the CL in an epoch-making verdict last year and the ruling was recently upheld by the IPAB recently.


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