International organisations have joined forces to challenge the European patent for Gilead’s hepatitis C drug sofosbuvir.
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and Medecins du Monde (MdM) said its high cost was a serious barrier to access for many patients.
And according to the organisations the patent is open to challenge because the science behind the drug is not new.
“With an estimated 80 million people worldwide living with hepatitis C, treatment should be available to everyone who needs it, no matter where they live – including in Europe,” said Dr Isaac Chikwanha, hepatitis C medical advisor for MSF’s Access Campaign.
“The price of sofosbuvir is keeping treatment out of reach for millions of people who need it, and treatment is being rationed or is just unavailable across the globe, including in many of the countries where MSF works, such as Russia, and many other middle-income countries including Thailand and Brazil. A drug that cures doesn’t do any good if the people who need it can’t afford it.”
If the patent challenge is successful the availability of affordable generic versions of sofosbuvir could be accelerated in Europe. Key patents on sofosbuvir have already been revoked in China and Ukraine.