Drugmaker Roche Holdings AG, the world's fifth-largest drug company by sales, will cut the prices of two major cancer drugs in India after the country’s regulators stripped industry rival Bayer AG of its exclusive rights to market its own cancer drug, said Reuters.
Bayer’s Nexavar, used to treat kidney and liver cancer, will soon be produced by a local Indian company and sold at cheaper prices in India. The ruling was the first one of its kind.
It invoked a World Trade Organization provision that allows countries to strip exclusive marketing rights domestically for life-saving treatments that are unaffordable, according to Reuters.
Nexavar’s cost will soon be cut by as much as 97 percent, according to RTT News.
The two drugs Switzerland-based Roche plans to rebrand and sell for less are Herceptin, which treats breast cancer, and MabThera, which treats lymphoma.
The Roche’s announcement comes just a week after India’s decision against German rival Bayer, although the company’s spokesperson declined to say whether the move was in response to the latter’s unfavorable ruling.
The Wall Street Journal characterized the Swiss compnay’s move as an effort to “gain market share and avoid competition from generic drugs.”
The Journal also noted that the decision “marks a shift for the Swiss drug maker, which long has argued that consumers everywhere should pay the same price for its medications.”
Roche plans to roll out the rebranded drugs early next year. How much cheaper the prices will be is unclear, however.
Currently, monthly doses of Herceptin and MabTher cost about $3,000 to $4,500 at whole sales prices, the spokesperson said.