17 Jan 2013
Bayer’s Patient Access Program for Sorafenib – the truth behind the spin
Bayer has filed an appeal against the Patent Controller’s decision to grant a CL to a generic competitor for the anti-cancer drug Sorafenib. At the final hearing being held at the IPAB in Chennai since yesterday, Bayer cited its access programme as an effort by the company to make the drug available to patients in India, which the Patent Controller ignored and went ahead and granted the CL to NATCO.
Bayer’s lawyers today revealed that the access programme requires the patient to pay for the first three days of the month (Rs. 30,000) then the patient can access sorefinib from Bayer free for the next 27 days. IPAB judges responded back saying that what is needed is not the subsidy that you offer conditionally but availability of the drug to the public across the board.
Interestingly, Bayer’s access programme’s cost of Rs. 30,000 per patient per month is still 4.5 times higher than the cost of the generic Sorafenib.
Bayer’s website also reveals that a patient’s eligibility for assistance is also based on their ‘financial situation’. How does Bayer access financial situation is something that should be probed. Most people in India cannot afford the treatment costing Rs. 30,000 per month that Bayer is asking for the initial period of treatment (first three days of the month) to receive the medicine free-of-charge for 27 days.
The hearing will go on till Friday, the 18th of January. It remains to be seen whether the final hearings will be completed by then.