Natco granted compulsory licence for Bayer's Nexavar

In a move that could set the tone for future pharma patent battles, the country's intellectual property rights watchdog has granted Hyderabad-based NATCO Pharma compulsory licence for the manufacture of `Sorafenib Tosylate', the generic version of the branded drug `Nexavar', sold by Bayer Corporation.

Nexavar is the first-line treatment for liver and kidney cancer and the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks awarded the compulsory licence to Natco under the provisions of Section 84 of the Indian Patents Act, 1970.

The compulsory licence, the first of its kind to be granted in India, enables Natco to sell the drug at a price not exceeding Rs8,880 for a pack of 120 tablets (one month's therapy) against Rs284,428 being the cost of Naxavar sold by Bayer.

The licence is valid till the expiry of the patent in 2021, Natco said in a release today.

The licensing is subject to certain conditions such as maintaining account of sales, and payment of royalty at 6 per cent of the net sales on a quarterly basis etc. The order also makes it obligatory for Natco to supply the drug free of cost to at least 600 needy and deserving patients per year.

''Natco welcomes this order and opines that this opens up a new avenue of availability of life savings drugs at an affordable price to the suffering masses in India,'' the release added.