The third Indian generic drug maker in the past year has filed for a compulsory license to make a patented drug in India. This time it is Natco that wants to make Bayer's cancer therapeutic Nexavar. Natco had approached Bayer for a license in December and was turned down.
Compulsory Licenses are controversial. They come into play in developing countries that argue the cost of many life-saving medications for diseases like AIDs and cancers are way too expensive for most patients in these countries (e.g. India, Thailand, Brazil, S. Africa). The generic producer says they can offer the medicines at a fraction of the cost if they had the license. Of course they can as they did not pay any of the discovery and development costs for these medicines. Innovator (brand name) drug producers are, needless to say, very mus opposed to compulsory licenses and say their imposition will remove financial incentives to find these innovative medicines.
The Natco case will be closely watched. If it is granted a compulsory license, then many Indian generic producers may also be encouraged to apply as well openign the floodgates potentially in India. That won't do much for the marketing of innovative drugs in India in my view, nor will it be much help to multi-nationals who may be seeking to develop more business in countries like India to help cover revenue losses they may be experiencing in other parts of their portfolios due to patent expirations. So much perhaps for developing markets serving as new growth engines. See Pharmalot.
Posted by Bruce Lehr Aug 4th 2011.