suraj.sun writes: Indian generic drug company Cipla said Friday it had slashed by up to 76 percent prices of three anti-cancer medicines in what it called a "humanitarian" move and promised to cut the costs of more products. There are 2.5 million cases of cancer diagnosed in India each year, according to the World Health Organisation, with most patients receiving inadequate treatment as drugs are priced beyond their reach. "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," company chairman Y.K. Hamied said. The family-led company first hit headlines in 2001 when it offered to supply life-saving triple therapy AIDS drug cocktails at prices sharply below those of multinational firms with Hamied saying the move was for "social reasons". Cipla has been pushing the Indian government to allow widespread use of so-called "compulsory licences" for production of life-saving patented drugs to overcome barriers for people in accessing affordable medicines. Compulsory licences are allowed under the World Trade Organization's TRIPS Agreement, which governs trade and intellectual property rules. Analysts said Cipla's move could prompt a price war in the 15-billion-rupee Indian drug market — challenging multinationals which sell costly patented medicine and Indian firms whose generic range is less expensive but not as cheap as Cipla's.
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