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Cipla to cut prices on cancer-fighting drugs

Cipla reduced prices of its three key anticancer drugs between 59 to 76%.

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An Indian staff checks batch numbers of ranbaxy medicines at a shop in Mumbai 26 October 2005. ( Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images)

Cipla, the second-largest pharmaceutical company in India, is slashing prices on several cancer medications, according to the Times of India.

On Thursday, the company reduced prices of its three key anticancer drugs, says the Times of India, between 59 to 76%. These drugs are used in treating brain, lung and kidney cancer.

Cipla is calling the price cuts a humanitarian move. 

According to the New York Daily News, Cipla company chairman Y.K. Hamied, said in a statement, "Business is business, but it has to be linked with one's social responsibilities. This initiative of price reduction is a humanitarian approach by Cipla to support cancer patients." 

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According to Medical Express, Cipla cut the price of Soranib, a generic version of Bayer's kidney cancer drug, Nexavar, by 76 percent. It will sell at 6,840 rupees ($130) for a monthly dose, down from 28,000 rupees.

Cipla also cut the price of its lung-cancer drug Gefticip, originally produced by AstraZeneca, by over 50 percent, and their brain-cancer drug Temoside, originally made by Schering, by 75 percent. 

Hamied told The Economic Times, the move isn't just for charity, but also for business. "Yes we are cutting the prices; we are being humanitarian, but at the same time we are not doing any charity. Doctors in India link the quality of drugs to the price of drugs; we want to remove that misconception."

Anjan Sen, director-healthcare, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu India also told the Economic Times, "It's a smart move by Cipla. With this, they will reach many more patients, and will also be able to garner greater market share."

This is not the first time the Indian pharmaceutical giant has made headlines for its pricing tactics. According to the New York Daily News, in 2001 Cipla offered triple- therapy AIDS drug cocktails at prices well below their competitors. At that time Hamied also noted it was for "social reasons."

Medecins Sans Frontieres said Cipla pushed the AIDS medication $10,000 per person per year, to $150.

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