Gilead’s price gouging for sofosbuvir blocks millions of people from getting treatment
NEW YORK/MUNICH/PARIS, SEPTEMBER 11, 2018—This week in Munich, the European Patent Office (EPO) will hear a legal challenge filed by groups in 17 countries against an unmerited patent that allows US-based pharmaceutical corporation Gilead Sciences to charge exorbitant prices in Europe for the key hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir. The organizations Médecins du Monde (MdM), Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and Just Treatment are among the patient and treatment provider organizations* that challenged the validity of a Gilead patent on sofosbuvir on the grounds that it does not fulfill the requirements to be a patentable invention from a legal or scientific perspective. The groups today, once again, urged the EPO to rethink its decision that gives Gilead this monopoly. The EPO will hold a public hearing on September 13-14 to make a decision on the case.
If the patent challenge is successful, it would be a major step toward allowing the production and importation of affordable generic versions of sofosbuvir in Europe, protecting health systems across Europe from illegitimate financial burden due to excessive corporate pricing of this drug. The extremely high prices in Europe of newer hepatitis C medicines—called direct-acting antivirals, or DAAs—has led civil society organizations to investigate and subsequently challenge the monopoly status and legitimacy of such patents.