* BDR Pharma seeks compulsory licence on cancer drug
* Company offers to sell drug at 8,100 rupees/month
By Kaustubh Kulkarni
MUMBAI, March 18 BDR Pharmaceuticals said on
Monday it has applied to India's patent office for a compulsory
licence to sell a generic version of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co's
cancer drug dasatinib, after unsuccessfully seeking a
voluntary licence from Bristol-Myers.
Under a global Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual
Property Rights agreement, countries can issue compulsory
licences for certain drugs that are deemed unaffordable to a
large section of their populations.
If approved, a compulsory licence for dasatinib, a blood
cancer drug, would be another setback for global drugmakers in
India. German company Bayer AG lost an appeal earlier
this month challenging the first such Indian license, which was
granted to Natco Pharma for cancer drug Nexavar.
Dasatinib is sold as Sprycel by U.S.-based Bristol-Myers
Squibb and costs about 165,000 rupees ($3,050) for a month's
treatment in India.
BDR Pharma filed its application seeking a compulsory
licence on March 4 and has offered to sell the drug at 8,100
rupees for a month's dose, Aravind Badiger, technical director
at BDR, an Indian pharmaceuticals company, said.
"We expect the patent office to respond at the earliest," he
said in an email response to a Reuters query.
BDR had unsuccessfully sought a voluntary licence from
Bristol-Myers to sell a copycat version of the drug, Badiger
Bristol-Myers Squibb said in a statement that it does not
comment on ongoing proceedings. The company said it "has and
will continue to pursue all appropriate avenues to protect its
intellectual property rights in India."
It said Sprycel is protected by a composition of matter
patent from the Indian Patent Office.
Natco Pharma already sells a generic version of dasatinib in
India, which is the subject of a legal battle with Bristol-Myers
Generic drugs account for about 90 percent of India's $13
billion drug market. While India holds promise for global
drugmakers facing slower growth in developed markets, big
pharmaceutical companies have lost several rulings on
intellectual property rights in recent years.
Among those setbacks, India revoked patents granted to
Pfizer Inc's cancer drug Sutent, Roche Holding AG's
hepatitis C drug Pegasys, and Merck & Co's
asthma treatment aerosol suspension formulation.