09 Nov 2012
Drug major Cipla, which revolutionized the treatment of HIV, is now turning its focus on another killer disease – cancer. On Thursday, the company slashed prices of three life-saving cancer drugs by 50-64%, a move that may trigger a price war or sorts in the industry.
Domestic companies including Sun Pharma and Natco which market similar cancer drugs will be forced to have a re–look at their prices, industry experts say.
The price reduction is on three additional anti-cancer drugs - Erlotinib (Erlocip), Docetaxel (Docetax) and Capecitabine (Capegard) - for the treatment of lung and pancreatic, breast cancer, head and neck, gastric cancer, bladder, colorectal and colon cancers.
The biggest reduction of 64% is on lung cancer drug, Erlocip, which would now cost Rs 9,900 for a 30–tablet strip as against Rs 27,000 earlier, while breast cancer treatment Docetax would be priced Rs 1,650 instead of Rs 3,300, said on Thursday.
In 2001, Cipla had revolutionized the treatment for HIV by introducing the first triple once–a–day drug cocktail in Africa at less than a dollar a day ($350 a year) as against the MNC price of over $10,000 for a year's treatment.
"Continuing its contribution towards affordable and accessible treatment for patients, Cipla extends the work done in HIV/AIDS and malaria to now include cancer, not only in India but globally," Y K Hamied, chairman and managing director of Cipla, said.
The huge drug reduction comes in the wake of Cipla's victory against drug MNC Roche in a patent infringement case on cancer drug Tarceva, which Cipla sells in its version 'Erlocip'. Industry experts said Cipla's move will trigger a re–evaluation of portfolio and prices in the oncology segment for all companies in the over Rs 1,500 space.
Interestingly, Cipla has not only taken head-on drug MNCs like Pfizer, Bayer and Roche by challenging their intellectual property (patents) over the years, but is also giving competition to domestic players in the branded generics market. It may not trigger a price war but definitely there will be some changes.
The price cuts follow similar reductions of up to 76% announced in May by Cipla in three major anti-cancer drugs. The first salvo in the cancer drug market this year was fired when Natco received the country's first compulsory licence to sell generic version of Nexavar at Rs 8,880 for a monthly dose, as against Bayer's price of Rs 2.85 lakh for a month.