2012 yearender: Drug prices, takeover of Indian cos remained govt focus

Dec 20 2012, 16:44 IST
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Government eventually cleared the new National Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy-2012. (Reuters) Government eventually cleared the new National Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy-2012. (Reuters)
SummaryGovernment eventually cleared the new National Pharmaceutical Pricing Policy-2012.

Prime Minister had put foreign investment in brown-field pharma on approval route, changing a 10-year-old policy of automatic clearance.

In the face of the restrictions, Orchid Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals sold various assets, including active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) business and a R&D facility

to the US-based Hospira Inc for USD 200 million (nearly Rs 1,112 crore).

Further, Ahmedabad-based Claris Lifesciences divested 80 per cent stake in its infusion business for Rs 1,050 crore and entered into a tripartite joint venture with two Japanese firms -- Otsuka Pharmaceutical Factory (OPF) and Mitsui & Co Ltd for the same.

Earlier in the year, Bangalore-headquartered Strides Arcolab sold its entire stake in Australian subsidiary Ascent Pharmahealth to Watson Pharmaceuticals for 375 million Australian dollars (over Rs 1,960 crore).

The year 2012, also marked India cracking down on patents held by multinational firms. In a first, the government invoked compulsory licensing in March to allow Hyderabad-based Natco Pharma to manufacture and sell cancer-treatment drug Nexavar at a price, over 30 times lower than what Bayer charged for its patented Nexavar drug.

Natco was allowed to sell the generic copy of the drug at Rs 8,880 for a pack of 120 tablets required for a month's treatment as compared to a whopping Rs 2.80 lakh per month by Bayer.

The Indian Patents Office revoked Pfizer's patent of cancer drug Sutent following opposition by domestic firm Cipla. In another case, the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) turned down drug firm AstraZeneca's plea for a patent on the lung cancer drug Gefitinib citing lack of invention.

Similarly, in December the Indian Patents Office revoked a patent for an asthma drug held by US-based Merck & Co following a challenge from domestic pharma firm Cipla.

As for one of India's leading pharmaceuticals firm Ranbaxy Laboratories, 2012 was a mixed year. The firm signed a consent decree in January to resolve issues related to

violation of manufacturing norms with the US Food and Drug Administration.

It was allowed to sell its generic version of cholesterol lowering drug Lipitor in the US and raked in close to USD 600 million. But happy days didn't last long as by the end of the year it had to stop production of the blockbuster drug and make a voluntary recall of certain lots of the drug from the market due to contamination.

The year also saw Indian drug maker Cipla slashing prices of its generic drugs, used in treating cancers of brain, lung and kidney

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