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16 December 2014Asia

Bayer’s Nexavar appeal rejected by Indian Supreme Court

Bayer has lost an attempt to block a generic version of its cancer drug Nexavar (Sorafenib) in India after the country’s highest court rejected an appeal from the German pharmaceutical company.

The Supreme Court of India rejected Bayer’s appeal from the Bombay High Court, which in July backed a 2012 ruling by the Controller General of Patents to grant a compulsory licence to Natco Pharma, an Indian generics company, to market its own version of the drug.

Bayer has since been fighting against the decision, which will enable Natco to sell Nexavar for just $173 (10,900 rupees) a month compared with the $5,500 a month it currently charges.

The company told LSIPR it was “disappointed” with the decision.

“We are analysing the order and will determine any future course of action afterwards,” it added.

In a statement on its website on December 12, Natco confirmed the court’s decision but did not offer further comment.

In its order, dated December 12, the Supreme Court said: “In the facts of the present case, we are not inclined to interfere. The special leave petition is dismissed, keeping all questions of law open.”

Bayer has now lost appeals against the ruling at all three possible stages: the Intellectual Property Appellate Board, the High Court, and now the Supreme Court.

Last year, LSIPR spoke to the company’s chief IP counsel Jörg Thomaier, who said increased reliance on compulsory licensing by some countries “undermines the incentives” for innovation.

“India is a case in point. Its policies do not, in fact, provide its poor population better access to medication. For the majority of Indians, even essential, off-patent, medicines remain unaffordable.”

The case has attracted interest abroad with the US including India on its priority watch list in its Special 301 Report earlier this year and signalling the pharmaceutical industry as an area of concern.

The 301 report is an annual rundown of US trading partners and their efforts to protect IP.

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