How Nigeria lost its breakthrough sickle-cell drug to an Indian company in 2003
Thus, exclusive rights to the patent were ultimately sold to a US-based, Indian-owned company, Xechem International, in 2003, a move that angered many Nigerians. Local scientists claimed that the sale of rights to the patent was illegal and against the national interest, but the government called their bluff, saying that the move would allow mass production of the drug.
The following year, Xechem managed to secure an “orphan drug” status for Niprisan in the United States in 2004 and in the European Union in 2005.
This qualified it for financial incentives to produce drugs considered unprofitable to develop, an article by Quartz explained. Xechem established a production plant in Nigeria and the drug was launched into the Nigerian market as Nicosan in 2006.
But in subsequent years, Xechem Nigeria failed to scale up its operations to its 50,000 capsules a day target. It was producing only about 10,000 and 15,000 capsules, making the drug scarce and expensive for locals at $25 per month supply. The situation was blamed on a series of mismanagement, litigation cases and corruption allegations faced by Xechem International and its Nigerian counterpart. ...
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