A for-profit pharmaceutical company sells a hepatitis C cure for $84,000 in the United States, which means that the average person cannot afford it and international the cost of the treatment is out of reach. Globally hepatitis C causes 400,000 deaths a year and affects 71 million people. Pharmaceutical companies claim the high price of their drugs is due to research and development (they spend more on advertising than research), yet non-profits can do similar research for a lot cheaper. Maybe we should only buy medical drugs from non-profits.
The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), a not-for-profit organisation, is working with the Egyptian drugmaker Pharco Pharmaceuticals to bring a combination treatment of two hepatitis C tablets, ravidasvir (a new drug)Â and sofosbuvir, to countries that cannot afford to pay the high prices charged by US companies Gilead and AbbVie. This is taking longer than expected but has moved a big step closer with the latest results.
The medicine has also been tested on 300 patients in Egypt, who have different genetic characteristics, with a 100% cure rate. Further studies are being carried out in South Africa and Ukraine to cover all six genotypes of the disease.
India continues to pave the way for providing cheaper generic drugs for its citizens compared to other nations which have a heavy patent system. Previously India has produced drugs for 97% less than ‘normal’ costs as well as committing to the development of generic drugs. Looking out for their citizen’s wellbeing has got them in trouble with a Swiss pharmaceutical company though.
The company took the government to court and after seven years of legal battles the court sided with the government’s goal of providing affordable health care.
Healthcare activists have called on the government to make medicines cheaper in a country where many patented drugs are too costly for most people, 40 percent of whom earn less than $1.25 a day, and where patented drugs account for under 10 percent of total drug sales.
“This appears to be the best outcome for patients in developing countries as fewer patents will be granted on existing medicines,” said Leena Menghaney, Medecins Sans Frontieres’ Access Campaign manager for India.
Over 16,000 patients in India use Glivec, the vast majority of whom receive it free of charge, Novartis says. By contrast, generic Glivec is used by more than 300,000 patients, according to industry reports.
“It’s a victory for patients who take these medicines and also for the government,” said M. Adinarayana, company secretary at Natco Pharma.
India has announced that they will be using a specialized law to produce generic anti-cancer drugs. This will lower the price of these drugs by 97% and increase the efficiency of health care delivery in the country. It’ll also make the poor better able to survive certain cancers because treatment will be more affordable.
In the first-ever case of compulsory licencing approval, the Indian Patent Office on Monday cleared the application of Hyderabad’s Natco Pharma to sell generic drug Nexavar, used for renal and liver cancer, at Rs 8,880 (around $175) for a 120-capsule pack for a month’s therapy. Bayer offers it for over Rs 2.8 lakh (roughly $5,500) per 120 capsule. The order provides hope for patients who cannot afford these drugs.
The approval paves the way for the launch of Natco’s drug in the market, a company official told TOI, adding that it will pay a 6% royalty on net sales every quarter to Bayer. The licence will be valid till such time the drug’s patent is valid, i.e. 2020. As per the CL (compulsory licence) order, Natco is also committed to donating free supplies of the medicines to 600 patients each year.