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India's patent appeals office has rejected international drug maker Bayer AG's plea to stop an Indian company from manufacturing a cheaper generic version of a patented cancer drug.

The ruling Monday is being hailed as an important precedent for getting inexpensive lifesaving drugs to the poor.

The German company had filed an appeal against the Indian patents office's decision last year to grant a compulsory license to local drug manufacturer Natco Pharma Ltd. to produce a generic version of its kidney and liver cancer treatment Nexavar.

Bayer sells a one month supply of the drug for about $5,600. Natco's version would cost Indian patients $175 a month.

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