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Non-profit calls to revoke Sovaldi’s European patent

Doctors of the World says Gilead is “abusing its patent” to impose unsustainable prices
Gilead Sovaldi

The non-profit healthcare organisation Doctors of the World has written to the European Patent Office to oppose the patent for Gilead Sciences' blockbuster hepatitis C treatment Sovaldi.

It marks the first time that a medical organisation has challenged a drug patent in Europe, but Doctors of the World says it has taken this step as Gilead is “abusing its patent to impose prices that are unsustainable for healthcare systems”.

Gilead markets Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) at £33,000 per 12-week course in the UK and its high price has led to concerns among healthcare bodies in several countries including France, Germany and the US.

India's Patent Office has already turned down a patent application from Gilead the drug, claiming it is not novel enough to warrant protection.

Doctors of the World hopes to achieve the same outcome in Europe and allow cheaper competition from generic versions of Sovaldi, which made more than $10bn for Gilead in 2014.

Dr Jean-Francois Corty, Doctor of the World's French programmes director, said: “We are defending universal access to healthcare: the struggle against health inequality involves safeguarding a healthcare system based on solidarity.

“Even in a 'rich' country such as France, with an annual drugs budget of €27bn, it is hard to meet this cost and already we're seeing an arbitrary rationing approach that excludes patients from care.”

Oliver Maguet, Doctors of the World's spokesperson for hepatitis C, added: “Opposition to a patent has already been used by civil society in India and Brazil to get improperly granted patents for drugs revoked and to make generic version available.

“This has led to a discernible drop in the cost of treatments and to patients being treated who would otherwise not have had the chance."

Article by
Kirstie Pickering

10th February 2015

From: Sales, Regulatory, Healthcare

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