Updated on 21 May 2015
Gilead is challenged for seeking illegitimate patents for hepatitis C medicine sofosbuvir
Singapore: Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge (I-MAK), a team of lawyers and scientists campaigning for global accessibility of medicines for hepatitis C and HIV patients, has challenged Gilead for seeking illegitimate patents for hepatitis C medicine sofosbuvir, blocking millions of people around the world from getting the treatment.
I-MAK and its partners, including Grupo de Trabalho sobre Propriedade Intelectual (GTPI), All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, Treatment Preparedness Coalition and Fundacion Grupo Efecto Positivo (Fundacion GEP), have filed a series of new, coordinated patent challenges in recent weeks that has major implications for the global fight against an exploding hepatitis C epidemic that is killing 700,000 people every year.
I-MAK and its partners, including people with hepatitis C and patient advocates, have filed challenges in Argentina, Brazil, China, Russia and Ukraine detailing how Gilead is abusing patent laws by claiming existing public knowledge as its own-thereby preventing people with hepatitis C from getting treatment.
The challenges against Gilead's patent applications for sofosbuvir-marketed under the brand name Sovaldi -demonstrate that, despite its medical benefits, sofosbuvir was developed using previously published information and an existing compound. The filings build on patent challenges I-MAK filed last year in Europe with Medecins du Monde and in India with the Delhi Network of Positive People, where the patent for sofosbuvir is still pending. Following the challenges in India, Egypt in 2014 rejected the sofosbuvir patent. More than 59 million people are living with the hepatitis C virus in Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Russia and Ukraine.
"The global criteria for patents are clear: They are reserved for drugs that are proven to be novel, non-obvious and useful," said Mr Tahir Amin, I-MAK co-founder and director of intellectual property. "By seeking exclusivity on science that is already in the public domain, Gilead is acting like a landlord charging exorbitant rent for property it doesn't legitimately own."