German pharma major Bayer has charged generic drugmaker Cipla of breach of its patent rights by slashing the price of a generic version of its patent-protected cancer drug Nexavar.
Bayer holds the patent for Nexavar till 2020 and it will "vigorously defend its patent within the available legal framework," a company spokesperson said.
"Bayer Pharma has not given its consent to Cipla to launch its generic Sorafenib (sold under the brand name Nexavar) and the company's decision to cut the price of the life-extending kidney and liver cancer drug "is a clear patent infringement."
Cipla had slashed the prices of its generic drugs used in treating cancers of brain, lung and kidney by up to 76 per cent.
The price of 'Soranib' used for treating kidney cancer was cut by 76 per cent to Rs 1,710 "for a month's therapy", from Rs 6,990, Cipla had said in a statement.
The Delhi High Court is already dealing with a patent infringement suit filed by Bayer against the Indian company on March 15, 2010, in response to a decision of the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) to grant Cipla marketing authorisation for a generic version of Nexavar.
The next hearing to decide the course of the proceedings is scheduled for August 14, the spokesperson said.
Bayer Pharma also confirmed that it has launched a legal challenge to the compulsory licence issued by India in March this year to domestic drugmaker Natco Pharma to manufacture and sell a low-cost generic copy of Nexavar.
An appeal against the decision of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks to grant a compulsory licence for Nexavar was filed with the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) on May 4, it said in a press statement.
The order of the Indian patents office "damages the international patent system and endangers pharmaceutical research," the statement said.
"We will vigorously continue to defend our intellectual property rights, which are a prerequisite for bringing innovative medicines to patients."
The challenges faced by India's healthcare system have little or nothing to do with patents on pharmaceutical products as all products on India's essential drugs list are not patented, Bayer had said.