The pharmaceutical company, Bayer, recently developed the cancer drug Nexavar, which is prescribed to those with late-stage kidney and liver cancer. Bayer CEO Marijn Dekkers doesn’t think Nexavar is for everyone, especially not Indians, but instead, only “western patients who can afford it.”
During an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Dekkers’ voiced his apparent lack of regard for human life in favor of profits when discussing a case where an Indian court granted a production license to an Indian pharma company. Part of the ruling stated that the company can produce Nexavar at a 97 percent discount, which would mean savings for Indians in need of the drug.
One year of treatment with Nexavar costs $96,000 in the United States and $69,000 in India, but the court ruled in favor of the Indian generic drug maker, Natco Ltd., now dropping the price for yearly treatment to $177. Dekkers said the compulsory license is “essentially theft” and that the company “did not develop this medicine for Indians, . . . we developed it for western patients who can afford it.”
Although India does have the world’s third largest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at $4.5 trillion of purchasing power, the United States’ GDP is significantly higher than India’s. By 2011, the United States’ GDP in purchasing power was $15.1 trillion.
Bayer is crying foul on the Indian government because Bayer has patented the drug, and the Big Pharma giant said that the court’s ruling undermines that patent and interferes with the company’s exclusivity in producing the drug. However, the compulsory license awarded by the Indian government is doing as it was designed.
The World Trade Organization allows such licenses, letting small companies manufacture patented products without the owner’s consent. Compulsory licences, therefore, loosen the market because they allow cheaper, generic products on the market which forces bigger, name brand companies to lower their prices in order to compete.
International consumers greatly benefit from compulsory licence-produced goods because they have more options and a wider market, instead of being forced to purchase the sole, and incredibly expensive, option.