MSF response to ruling in Gilead sofosbuvir patent hearing at European Patent Office

MSF's picture
Photograph by Peter Bauza

Munich, 13 September 2018 — Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is gravely disappointed with the European Patent Office’s decision today to uphold US pharmaceutical corporation Gilead Sciences’ patent related to the key hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir. In a bid to contest Gilead’s unmerited patent on this drug in order to make the medicine more affordable in Europe, a legal challenge was filed in March 2017 by patient and treatment provider organisations from 17 European countries, including Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF); Médecins du Monde (MdM); the European Public Health Alliance (EU-wide); Salud Por Derecho (Spain); AIDES (France); Praksis (Greece); and Access to Medicines Ireland.

The oral drug sofosbuvir, which forms the backbone of most hepatitis C combination treatments, has been priced by Gilead as high as €43,000 for a 12-week treatment course in Europe. In countries where MSF is treating people with hepatitis C, including Myanmar, Cambodia, India, Pakistan, Mozambique, Uganda and Kenya, sofosbuvir is currently being procured from generics manufacturers for €75 for the same treatment course. The exorbitant price of this drug and the resulting rationing of access has stirred an intense debate on the pricing of patented medicines in Europe. Following the oral proceedings in Munich today, the European Patent Office upheld the patent granted to Gilead in relation to sofosbuvir—with amendments. The decision allows Gilead to retain a patent on a pharmaceutically-inactive component that appears in the body during the synthesis of sofosbuvir. The result is that Gilead’s monopoly still stays in the way to access more affordable generic versions in Europe.

Gaelle Krikorian, Head of Policy, MSF Access Campaign:

“Today’s decision is a clear illustration of how multinational pharmaceutical corporations like Gilead abuse the patent system so they can shut out any competition and continue unfettered to charge exorbitant prices. We will appeal today’s decision as we strongly believe that the European Patent Office should have revoked the patent.

Any patent granted in Europe not only affects access to medicines for Europeans, but also impacts people in many developing countries that lack the resources to perform careful patent examination, and instead follow the EPO’s decisions. This calls for extremely close scrutiny by EPO of any patent related to medicines.”

Read, watch, share

Filter by - Any -CampaignEventsFact sheetFeature storyInfographicInterviewIssue briefLetterNewsletterOpinion articlePhoto storyPress releaseReportReport seriesResearch articleSpeechSpotlightStatementStoryTechnical briefThe issuesTopic overviewVideo
Issue brief
07 May 2018

Access Campaign Year in Review 2017

Press release
Press release
11 September 2018
Hepatitis C

Civil society groups call for end to Gilead’s unwarranted hepatitis C drug monopoly in Europe

Gilead’s price gouging for sofosbuvir blocks millions of people from getting treatment

5 min
Press release
Press release
Press release
20 July 2018
Intellectual property and trade

ASEAN and India urged not to trade away people’s lives in trade agreement

RCEP trade deal could cut medicines lifeline for people in developing countries

3 min
Press release
Press release
19 June 2018
Hepatitis C

MSF challenges Gilead’s unmerited patent in China for lifesaving hepatitis C medicine

The patent is being contested on the grounds that it involves well-known technologies, rendering it an unmerited patent under China’s patent law, which is consistent with the World Trade Organization rules.

4 min
Press release
Press release
14 May 2018
Research and development

MSF responds to President Trump's speech on drug pricing

President Trump argued today that one of the reasons behind high prescription drug prices is that other countries charge too little and are ‘freeloading’ on American innovation.

Copy this html code to your website/blog to embed this press release.


Post new comment

2 + 0 =

To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.