Bayer’s Cancer-Fighting Drug Not for the Poor?

By | June 4, 2014

Policymic had a great point to make about Bayer last week. It was a surprise to hear that a huge pharmaceutical company like Bayer claim that the drug that they have manufactured to help fight cancer was not intended for the poor. This was disclosed by Bayer’s very own CEO, Marijn Dekkers. Many were amazed that such a huge and successful company could ever claim this! Big companies like Bayer compete with each other in the quest to find the next best cure or the best life-saving medication. But if pharmaceutical companies reveal that what they are doing is just to make money then they should possibly rethink about their goals.

Dekkers’ reckless quote was possibly due to his anger at another pharmaceutical company from India called Natco Pharma Ltd. Natco was awarded a license to create a generic version of Bayer’s Nexaver which is a drug that has been developed to treat late-stage cancers of the liver and kidney. The new Natco generic drug will only cost $177! This is a 97% reduction from a $69,000 price Bayer had for Nexaver.

The license was granted to Natco basically because there was no cheaper alternative to Nexaver in India. The country desperately needs drugs like this to cure people especially those that belong to low income families.

Dekkers was quoted in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek: “We did not develop this medicine for Indians.” He further mentioned: “We developed it for western patients who can afford it.” Still another representative from Bayer informed India Supreme Court that the price for their anti-cancer drug was actually “reasonably affordable.”

Other pharmaceutical companies like Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and Merck & Co. will possibly find themselves at the same situation when India starts to create alternatives for expensive medications so that most of their poverty-stricken residents could afford to get well.