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Treatment Advocates Challenge Patent for New Hepatitis C Drug
Date:11/24/2013

NEW YORK, Nov. 25, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Open Society Foundations today welcomed a challenge in India to Gilead Science's patent application for their new medicine, sofosbuvir, by the Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge.

The challenge, filed last week at the Kolkata Patent Office, would prevent Gilead from holding the monopoly on sofosbuvir's production and pricing. This would allow Indian manufacturers to produce a cheaper generic version of the medicine, a first step toward making it available other low-and middle-income countries.

Treatment with sofosbuvir is shorter than current treatments, has higher cure rates, can be taken orally, and is better tolerated. But these benefits are not the basis for a patent. And in India, the law states that products that are variants of existing chemical compounds are not patentable.

"Sofosbuvir is not innovative enough at the molecular level to warrant a patent," said Els Torreele, Director of the Open Society Foundations' Access to Essential Medicines Initiative. "This is a battle over whether profits or the lives of patients will drive the hepatitis C response."

Sofosbuvir is expected to be approved in the U.S. and in Europe in the coming weeks and could cost around $80,000 for a course of treatment. With 90% of hepatitis C patients living in low-and middle-income countries, this price tag will put the treatment out of reach for most.

"Without generic competition from India, patent-holding companies will be too slow bringing down prices," said Tahir Amin, Director of the Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge. "This medicine is a variant of known compounds, and Indian law will not allow a company to make billions on it."

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SOURCE Open Society Foundations
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