Hyderabad: Natco Pharma Ltd has launched a generic version of bendamustine, a drug used in the treatment of cancer of the soft tissue inside bones at a fraction of the cost of a rival medicine.
The drug for treating chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and sold under the brand name Bendit is priced at Rs6,950 for a 100mg vial, the Hyderabad-based firm said in a release on Wednesday.
US-based biopharma firm Cephalon Inc. sells the drug under the brand Treanda for Rs86,000 a 100mg vial in India. Patients are typically administered six 100mg doses a year.
Natco estimates the market size for bendamustine in India at about Rs80 crore, and at about $1 billion (Rs4,450 crore) globally.
Bhaskara Narayana, chief financial officer of Natco, said the firm is looking to launch the drug in the US and Europe as well. Natco is in talks with three companies based in India and the US for marketing tie-ups, he added.
Natco’s partner in the deal would buy the global marketing rights for an upfront payment, and take on the onus of launching the drug in other countries as well as associated costs and legal risks. Natco would receive milestone payments, royalties and a portion of the profits beyond a certain level of sales, Narayana said.
He added Natco will launch 10 more drugs in India this year, more than half of them being oncology products.
With Bendit’s launch, the firm is banking on a recent study that proved Treanda’s efficacy as a frontline treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system.
“Cephalon’s US sales for Treanda were at $222 million in 2009. With the recently proven additional indications for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma...this figure is expected to go up,” said V.S.R. Sastry, vice-president, equity desk, at First Call India Equity Advisors Pvt. Ltd.
The company’s stock price rose 1.29% on the Bombay Stock Exchange on Wednesday to end at Rs141.20, on a day the benchmark Sensex index climbed 0.16% to close at 17,970.02 points.