Bayer AG said, on Tuesday, it was mulling ways to challenge a ground-breaking Indian ruling allowing a local firm to produce a vastly cheaper copy of a cancer drug made by the German pharmaceutical giant.

The ruling on Monday by India's Controller-General of Patents marked the first time a so-called ‘compulsory licence' for production of a patented drug has been granted in India, known as a global generics drug powerhouse.

Evaluating options

“We will evaluate our (legal) options to further defend our intellectual property rights in India,'' Bayer spokesman Aloke Pradhan told AFP, saying the company was “disappointed by the decision.''

Under the ruling, closely watched by global drugmakers, Bayer must give a licence for cancer drug Nexavar to Indian company Natco Pharma.

Royalty

Natco will pay Bayer a 6 per cent royalty on net sales of the drug and sell the medicine for Rs.8,800 ($175) a month. That sum represents a 97 per cent reduction on the Rs.2.80 lakh that Bayer charges in India for a monthly dose of the drug, which is used to extend the lives of patients suffering from advanced kidney and liver cancers.

Indian patent controller P. H. Kurian granted the right to Natco to produce the drug after concluding Bayer had priced the drug ‘exorbitantly,' making it ‘out of reach' of most Indian patients.

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