India The Free Rider

In an earlier posting, I described how India is trying to become a free rider, gaining the benefits of drug development without having to share in the costs.

The Indian government violated the intellectual property rights of Bayer and Onyx by breaking Nexavar's patent and giving a new license to Natco Pharma, an Indian company, to manufacture and market a generic version of Nexavar in India.

Roche has been paying close attention and sees the writing on the wall. Roche just announced that it would launch rebranded versions of Herceptin and MabThera/Rituxan in India at lower prices. Roche will, of course, sell a higher volume of these products at the lower price, but it is clear that Roche primarily aims to avoid "compulsory licenses." Facing the prospect of earning nothing or something, Roche has chosen the latter.

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