UPDATE 1-India Cipla slashes generic price of Bayer's Nexavar
* To sell generic Nexavar at 6,840 rupees/month
* Cuts prices of lung, brain cancer drugs by up to 75 pct
* Says price cuts not to hit revenues
By Kaustubh Kulkarni
MUMBAI, May 3 (Reuters) - Indian drugmaker Cipla cut the price of its generic version of Bayer's cancer drug Nexavar by 75 percent, nearly two months after India allowed another drugmaker to make a cut-rate version of the drug over Bayer's objections.
In March, India stripped Bayer of its exclusive rights to sell Nexavar, a treatment for kidney and liver cancer, granting Natco Pharma a license to sell the generic drug at 8,880 rupees ($170) for a monthly dose. Bayer sells the branded Nexavar at 284,428 rupees a month.
That decision was seen as setting a precedent that could extend to other treatments, including modern HIV/AIDS drugs, in a major blow to global pharmaceutical firms.
Cipla said it will sell Nexavar at 6,840 rupees for a monthly dose.
"There was no directive from government ... We have decided to make the drug affordable to more patients," Cipla Chairman Y.K. Hamied told Reuters over the telephone.
Separately, Cipla is fighting a patent infringement suit by Bayer over generic Nexavar in an Indian court.
Along with generic Nexavar, Cipla also cut the price of lung cancer drug gefitinib, the generic version of AstraZeneca's Iressa, and Schering-Plough's brain tumor drug temozolomide between 60 and 75 percent, Hamied said.
Cipla, the No. 2 drugmaker by market share in India, does not expect the price cut to hit its revenues as the products have low volumes.
"There are less number of patients for these products. Hence, we want to make the drugs available to more patients," Hamied said.
Even generic drug prices are beyond the reach of millions of sufferers of cancer and other diseases in India, experts say.
Shares in Cipla, valued at about $4.86 billion, closed down 0.13 percent at 317.65 rupees in a weak Mumbai market that fell 0.87 percent on Thursday.
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