India grants GILEAD a patent for sofosbuvir
Patent for sofosbuvir, hepatitis C $1000-per-pill treatment: the end of medical tourism?
Patents are meant to protect the companies from generic competition, allowing them to get the return on their R&D investment and to use the profit to develop new formulations. Unfortunately, without competition – and that’s the case with a patent for sofosbuvir – the pharmaceutical companies can set the unprecedented prices.
In 2014, Gilead earned $10.3 billion with Sovaldi™alone, and $25 billion in total – and roughly a half of this figure in 2013. Sofosbuvir was initially developed by a small company Pharmasset, which was acquired by Gilead in 2011 for $11.2 billion. Therefore, all R&D investment was paid off long time ago.
So today, who needs protection more – Gilead from the competition or hepatitis C patients from atrocious pricing strategies?
Patent for sofosbuvir granted, and now what?
A day after the patent was granted on new hepatitis C treatment, patient groups and companies are already planning to challenge it. Many health advocates claim that sofosbuvir does not deserve a patent and prepare to launch an appeal to the Patent Office’s decision.
|Currently, another key application is pending before the Patent Office in India, this time on the prodrug of sofosbuvir. Several oppositions to its grant have been filed by patient and public interest groups.
Health advocates agree that the approval of the patent for sofosbuvir could prevent exports of raw materials (APIs) to other countries seeking to make the drug, such as Egypt, Bangladesh and Pakistan, and the supply of affordable drugs in these countries could thus be affected.