Cipla to slash prices of six more cancer drugs

In a move that is unlikely to go well with global pharmaceutical majors, drugmaker Cipla will slash prices of six more cancer drugs on humanitarian grounds, a decade after it shook multination giants by slashing prices of AIDS, and later, malaria drugs.

Anti-cancer drugs are highly priced and are unaffordable poor and most middle-class patients in the country.

Dr Y K Hamied''We are working to reduce prices of at least six more cancer drugs. These are on humanitarian grounds, as most of the drugs are highly priced in most of the markets. We are yet to finalise the drugs and the pricing,'' Cipla chairman and managing director Dr Y K Hamied said.

Cipla made headlines in 2001 by producing antiretroviral drugs to treat Aids in Africa for under $1 per day. The company, founded by Hamied's father Khwaja Abdul Hamied in 1935, markets 23 anti-cancer drugs.

Last week, Cipla slashed prices of three cancer drugs Sorafenib (sold under brand name Nexavar) by 75.6 per cent, and Gestinib (brand name Iressa) by 57.5 per cent and Temozolomide (brand name Temodal) by 75 per cent – used in treating cancers of brain, lung and kidney.

''We believe this move will help the company garner greater market share in these products. However, the cancer drugs contribute only 1 per cent to domestic formulations. Hence, even an increase in revenue from these products will not have any meaningful impact on overall revenue and earnings, in our view,'' brokerage firm Quant Capital said
in a May 4 note.

On Thursday, German pharma major Bayer charged Cipla of breaching its patent rights by slashing the price of a generic version of its patent-protected cancer drug Nexavar. Bayer holds the patent for Nexavar till 2020 and will vigorously defend its patent within the available legal framework, a spokesperson was quoted by saying.
The Delhi High Court is already dealing with a patent infringement suit filed by Bayer against the Indian company on 15 March 2010 in response to a decision of the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) to grant Cipla marketing authorisation for a generic version of Nexavar.

The next hearing to decide the course of the proceedings is scheduled for 14 August 2012.