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Natco launches first generic of Hepatitis C drug Sovaldi

Livemint:  March 10, 2015

Mumbai: Natco Pharma Ltd has on Monday introduced the first ever generic copy of Sovaldi, the $1,000-a-pill Hepatitis C drug of Gilead Sciences Inc., in Nepal after the company received the regulatory approval from that government to execute an export order.

Hyderabad-based Natco was once of the 10 generic pharma companies to sign a non-exclusive licensing agreement with Gilead to manufacture and sell this costly drug, which is the latest and the best available treatment for Hepatitis C at present.

Natco will sell the drug at Rs.19,900 for a bottle of 28 tablets-one-ninetieth of Gilead's price-in Nepal under the brand name Hepacinat.

The price of Sovaldi, developed and patented by Gilead, has been the topic of much debate globally after its launch in 2014. Although the drug cures Hepatitis C in more than 90% of those who for whom it has been prescribed, the 12-week course of treatment in the US was $84,000 ($1,000 a pill).

"Natco hopes to launch Hepacinat in India soon, subject to approval from the drugs controller general of India. Under the recently signed non-exclusive licensing agreement with Gilead Sciences to manufacture and sell generic versions of its chronic Hepatitis C medicine, Natco can sell the product in 91 developing countries," Natco said in a statement on Monday.

Following strong criticism form healthcare groups and various governments on the huge cost of the new drug, Gilead had taken a decision to license the manufacturing right of the medicine to generic companies to make it accessible in the low-income countries soon after its launch in the US.

Gilead had said in September that it has signed non-exclusive licensing agreements with eight India-based generic pharmaceutical manufacturers to expand access to its chronic Hepatitis C medicines in developing countries.

The licensing agreements allow these Indian drug makers including Natco, Cadila Healthcare Ltd, Cipla Ltd, Hetero Labs Ltd, Mylan Laboratories Ltd, Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd, Sequent Scientific Ltd and Strides Arcolab Ltd to manufacture the generic version of sofosbuvir (the generic name of Sovaldi) for distribution in 91 developing countries.

The countries within the agreement account for more than 100 million people living with Hepatitis C, representing 54% of the total global infected population, said Gilead in a September statement.

While Natco has already launched its generic version under the licensing agreement with Gilead, other generic companies are yet to announce their launch plan.

Natco Pharma shares gained 2.58% to Rs.1,552.55 on Monday on the BSE, while the benchmark Sensex lost 2.05% to close at 28,844.78 points and the BSE HealthCare Index gained 0.3% to 17,042.34 points.

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.

x IBEF : India Brand Equity Foundation