Source: Wall Street Journal
Local Drug Companies Will Be Able to Offer Cheaper Version
MUMBAI—Roche Holding AG ROG.VX -0.51% said on Friday that it won’t pursue a patent in India for its breast cancer drug Herceptin, which will allow local drug makers to offer a cheaper version to patients.
In an emailed statement, the Swiss pharmaceutical company said its decision was based on the strength of the application and the intellectual-property environment in India.
Earlier this month, an Indian patent office rejected Roche’s application for additional patents on Herceptin, citing procedural lapses. These patents would have helped extend patent protection beyond May 2019, when the current patent expires.
Roche didn’t pay the licensing fees for the renewal of the patent in May.
Herceptin is used in the treatment of a common form of breast cancer. The drug offers fewer side effects than conventional chemotherapy, Dr. Arun Behl, a cancer surgeon in Mumbai, told The Wall Street Journal last week.
A patient diagnosed with certain types of advanced breast cancer needs to take one dose of Herceptin a month for a year. Roche had been under pressure from activists to make the drug cheaper.
Since the drug was patented, more than a million women have been diagnosed with the form of breast cancer Herceptin treats. “Less than 10% of them were able to access the drug,” Kalyani Menon Sen, an activist, said in a statement.
When Herceptin first became available in India, it was priced at around $1,790 per vial, a letter written by Mr. Sen and other activists to India’s prime minister. In March 2012, Roche announced a cut in the price of Herceptin from $1,757 a dose to $1,497 a dose, the letter said. Roche declined to comment on the drug’s price.
In March last year, Roche agreed to allow Indian firm Emcure Pharmaceuticals Ltd. to manufacture and sell a version of its drug. Prices fell after Roche licensed the manufacturing of Herceptin to Emcure, the Indian company’s website said. Roche said it doesn’t disclose pricing information.
India remains a minuscule market for Roche’sdrugs.
The company’s pharmaceutical sales in India in 2012 were 64 million Swiss francs ($69 million), about 0.2% of Roche’s global pharmaceutical sales.