Roche Gives Up India Patent for Breast Cancer Drug

Aug 16, 2013

Roche Holding AG has decided not to pursue a patent application for its breast cancer drug Herceptin in India, the Swiss company said on Friday, as Western drugmakers come under pressure over high prices in the fast-growing market.

However, according to the Indian government, Roche has failed to secure additional patent protection for its breast cancer therapy Herceptin in India because it did not follow the correct filing procedure.

Herceptin, a treatment for a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer, is Roche's third-biggest seller and notched up global revenues of $3.30 billion in the first half of the year.

Western pharmaceutical companies are keen to tap into India's $13 billion drug market, but there are concerns about the level of protection for intellectual property in the country, where generic medicines account for more than 90 percent of drug sales.

India's government has considered issuing a compulsory license on Herceptin, which would allow local drugmakers to sell far cheaper, generic copies. The government has so far held off from a decision. Roche's decision not to pursue a patent for Herceptin could pave the way for generic drugmakers to produce cheaper copies, known as biosimilars, because they are not identical replicas of the original drug. Read more