The WSJ reports that Roche has decided to rebrand two of its popular cancer drugs for the Indian market and to reduce their prices significantly. Herceptin and Mabthera will thus be renamed and repriced in that market. The drugs will be packaged locally by India's Emcure Pharmaceuticals, the countries 10th largest pharma.
Roche hopes that rebranding will cut down the practice of having middle men buy cancer drugs in low price markets and reselling (illegally) them into higher price markets. It hopefully will also allow Roche to maintain its higher prices in markets outside of India. It may also help stave off competition from generics.
This may also be seen as a response to India's compulsory licensing laws that allow (compel) the government to allow generic producers to obtain a license to patented drugs if they are too expensive for the domestic market and therefore unavailable to those patients who need them. This controversial practice was used recently to grant Natco a compulsory license to make Bayer's Nexavar in India. See post. Roche appears to be trying to avoid a similar fate.
In an effort to work and play well with Indian authorities, Roche has cut its prices and also allowed and Indian company to do its final packaging. It has done its best to protect future revenue flow in India without a compulsory license being granted, and tried to protect its brand and pricing outside of India through rebranding. This is the logical proactive approach at deal-making that I expected drug companies to take after the Bayer license was compelled.
Posted by Bruce Lehr Mar 22nd 2012.