India grants GILEAD a patent for sofosbuvir – Page3

India grants GILEAD a patent for sofosbuvir

Patent for sofosbuvir, hepatitis C $1000-per-pill treatment

 

The patent for sofosbuvir granted to Gilead this week raises many concerns. It gives Gilead an unlimited control over their licensed manufacturers. Rumors spread saying that the medication purchase will be restricted to Indian residents and that the amount of the medication one can buy will be limited. Apparently, only one bottle will be sold at once, and the next one could be obtained only four weeks later, and only if the empty bottle is returned. The bar-code system could also be implemented to improve the control over the medication purchase and use.

For the moment these are only rumors. Even if these measures are actually taken, the practical implementation will take time and in some rural areas of India will be simply impossible.

Patent for sofosbuvir: the end of medical tourism in India?

patent for sofosbuvir no more generics in india

Sofosbuvir-based Indian generics (Ledifos, MyHep and others) are already sold only with hepatologist’s prescription. Their price – 20,000 rupees per bottle – seems extremely attractive to Americans and Europeans, but is sky-high for an average Indian. It is hard to image the bar-code scanning system in some areas that don’t even have electricity.

If these restrictive measures are taken, not only the new hepatitis C treatment will be out of most Indian’s reach, but it will also cut down drastically medical tourism in India.

Other countries

Sofosbuvir patents have been rejected already in China, Egypt and Ukraine. It is probably not a simple coincidence that Gilead granted two licenses to the manufacturers in Egypt.

The patent oppositions have been filed in several other countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Russia and Thailand.

What’s the fuss about? Hepatitis C Facts

The liver-destroying virus of hepatitis C affects about 180 million people worldwide. It is primarily transmitted through blood-to-blood contact, even though sexual transmission is possible in high-risk groups. In 80% of the cases, the undetected and untreated hepatitis C infection becomes chronic and can thus lead to liver stiffness, liver cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer.

Hepatitis C is considered to be one of the most common causes of death from infectious disease, according to the study of Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the US. In 2013, the annual mortality from hepatitis C exceeded the total combined number of deaths from 60 other infectious diseases, including HIV, pneumococcal disease, and tuberculosis. Worse even, this data is based on death certificates which often state the immediate cause and overlook the root cause – hepatitis C – so the actual numbers of hepatitis C deaths might actually be even higher.

Sofosbuvir is a highly effective substance with minimal side affects. It is listed on the World Health Organisation Essential Medicines List, making it a high priority drug for hepatitis C treatment. Sofosbuvir-based drugs Sovaldi™ and Harvoni™ are FDA-approved in the US. The patent for sofosbuvir and its prodrugs belongs to Gilead Sciences.

 

 

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India grants GILEAD a patent for sofosbuvir – page2

India grants GILEAD a patent for sofosbuvir

Patent for sofosbuvir, hepatitis C $1000-per-pill treatment: the end of medical tourism?

 

patent for sofosbuvir brings gilead moneyPatents 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.

“Gilead’s sofosbuvir was developed with previously published techniques that have been used repeatedly in other antiviral drugs and therefore does not deserve a patent. In fact, Gilead’s unjustified patents for sofosbuvir have already been rejected by China, Ukraine and Egypt. With pressure growing from US trade regime and from Gilead’s manipulative licensing deals, the patent office’s latest decision ignores the truth about sofosbuvir and fails to uphold the standards of Indian patent law. I-MAK and the Delhi Network of Positive People (DNP+) will appeal the decision to ensure the Indian patent system stays accountable to the integrity of the law and to the public’s health.”  Tahir Amin, co-director of the Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge

(more…)

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New hepatitis C treatment in India: People Before Profit or Smart Strategic Decision?

New hepatitis C treatment, sofosbuvir in India: People Before Profit or Smart Strategic Decision?

New hepatitis C treatment is novel and creative, but not novel and creative enough

new hepatitis c treatment in India

 

On 13 January 2015 India has rejected Gilead’s patent application for the new hepatitis C treatment, sofosbuvir. HCV advocates all over the world applauded to this brave decision, but little do we know about the reasons behind it.

India’s patent system: a reason for thriving pharmaceutical industry

India’s patent system is quite controversial, and particularly in what concerns pharmaceutical industry. Until 2005, only “process patents” existed according to India’s Patents Act. This basically meant that pharmaceutical companies could recreate another company’s product by simply making changes to production process. Process patent system was the reason why Indian pharmaceutical industry prospered and became one of the world’s largest.

India has made it to the list of the countries that “present the most significant concerns regarding insufficient [intellectual property rights] protection or enforcement”, according to United States Trade Representative.

The current India’s patent system was put in place in 2005 and allows the companies patenting the substance and not just the process of producing it. However, to avoid all the cheating when the companies make minor changes in order to refresh their patent, a provision was put in place (so-called section 3(d)):

“the mere discovery of a new form of a known substance which does not result in the enhancement of the known efficacy of that substance or the mere discovery of any new property or new use for a known substance or of the mere use of a known process, machine or apparatus unless such known process results in a new product or employs at least one new reactant [are not inventions within the meaning of this act].”

Section 3(d) and the therapeutic efficacy requirement was cited in the patent office’s decision to reject Gilead’s patent application.

New hepatitis C treatment is novel and creative, but creativity is not the point

The decision agrees that the changes described in the application make sofosbuvir “novel and inventive.” However, “a molecule with minor changes in addition to the novelty must show significantly enhanced therapeutic efficacy as compared to the nearest prior art molecule which is structurally and functionally close,” decision says. This “closest prior art,” in case of sofosbuvir, is a compound D1 (patent WO2001/92282).

According to the Patent’s Office Decision, the application does not have sufficient data to prove this required therapeutic efficacy improvement. Attention though, it might only mean that Gilead needs to acquire more data before filing another patent application, and that the battle over the patent for the miraculously effective new hepatitis C treatment isn’t final yet.

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