Appeal lodged against decision to uphold Gilead’s patent on hepatitis C drug

05 Dec. 2018

Six organisations, including Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), have just appealed the European Patent Office’s September decision to uphold US pharmaceutical corporation Gilead Science’s patent on the key hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir.

The appeal – filed by Médecins du Monde (MdM), MSF, AIDES (France), Access to Medicines Ireland, Praksis (Greece) and Salud por Derecho (Spain) – states that the European Patent Office (EPO) should revoke Gilead’s patent because it does not meet the requirements to be a patentable invention from a legal or scientific perspective.

The appeal comes exactly five years after sofosbuvir was first approved for use, in the US, where Gilead launched the drug at US$1,000 per pill, or $84,000 for a 12-week treatment course.

The corporation has made more than $58 billion from sales of the drug and its combinations in the last five years.

In March 2017, civil society organisations from 17 European countries filed a challenge against Gilead’s patent on the base compound of sofosbuvir, stating that Gilead’s patent claims were not legitimate, primarily because they lack inventiveness.

Out-of-control drug prices

Gilead’s monopoly on sofosbuvir in Europe has allowed the corporation to charge excessive prices for the drug.

In some European countries, Gilead charges as much as €43,000 for a 12-week treatment course, when generic versions of the same course can be purchased for less than €75 outside Europe.