Bayer Pharmaceutical CEO: Cancer drug only ‘for western patients who can afford it’
In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Bayer CEO Marijn Dekkers said that his company’s new cancer drug, Nexavar, isn’t “for Indians,” but “for western patients who can afford it.”
The drug, which is particularly effective on late-stage kidney and liver cancer, costs approximately $69,000 per year in India, so in March 2012 an Indian court granted a license to an Indian company to produce to the drug at a 97 percent discount.
Bayer sued Natco Pharma Ltd., but in March of last year, the High Court in Mumbai denied its appeal. Bayer CEO called the compulsory license issued by the Indian court “essentially theft,” then said “[w]e did not develop this medicine for Indians…[w]e developed it for western patients who can afford it.”
Nexavar costs approximately $96,000 per year in the United States, but Bayer assures “western patients” that they can have access to the drug for a $100 copay.
The United States International Trade Commission said that it will investigate “Indian policies that discriminate against U.S. trade and investment,” and despite the High Court’s decision, many in the Indian government are worried about the effect it will have on U.S.-India relations.
In an e-mail to Bloomberg Businessweek, Bristol-Meyers Squibb said that it is “deeply concerned with the deteriorating protections for patented innovative medicines in India.” The court cases that could ensue could tie up the Indian legal system in a manner that makes it impossible for doctors in the country to acquire any version of the drugs at any cost.
[Image of Bayer CEO Dekkers via 2010 Annual Report]