Madrid, 24 March 2017- The organisation Salud por Derecho has today filed a new opposition against the patent of Sofosbuvir, the drug to treat Hepatitis C patented by Gilead. Salud por Derecho joins the efforts of Doctors of the World, Doctors Without Borders, and other European civil groups to try to eliminate the barriers limiting the access of millions of people to a drug they need to live.
“Almost 80 million people live with Hepatitis C worldwide and this drug has the capacity to cure them. However, the high price imposed by Gilead is blocking access to treatment for all those who need it and also the future eradication of the disease”, says Vanessa LÃ³pez, Executive Director of Salud por Derecho.
This action follows the journey started by Doctors of the World in 2015, when the organisation filed the first opposition against one of the patents of Sofosbuvir at the European Patent Office (EPO). At the end of the procedure, in October 2016, the EPO continued to recognise the patent, but they were forced to introduce amendments to the drug application documents.
The new opposition, filed against another patent of the drug, is based on the fact that the basic compound is not a new invention and, therefore, the pharmaceutical company does not fulfil the requirements set out by the European Patent Convention. If successfully resolved, the opposition could accelerate the entry of generic medicines to Europe, as well as generating legal arguments to help States empower themselves in the negotiations with Gilead.
âWe urge our Governments and administration to make use of the international mechanisms available to eliminate the barriers represented by the patent of Sofosbuvir to protect public health interests and defend access to life-saving drugsâ, claims Vanessa LÃ³pez.
As of today, 30 non-governmental and civil society organisations from 17 European countries are engaged in this new procedure. 10 delegations of the international network of Doctors of the World, 13 delegations of the network of Doctors Without Borders in Europe, 5 national social organisations and the European Public Health Alliance join this new opposition. In Spain, Doctors of the World and Salud por Derecho are the two organisations opposed to the patent.
âSalud por Derecho has been denouncing the lack of access to this drug since 2014, along with other Spanish civil society organisations, and fighting against the abusive practice of Gilead and their imposition of excessively high prices, which have created inequalities in access to the treatment depending on the region and the rationing of the treatmentsâ, says Vanessa LÃ³pez. âPatient associations have recently succeeded in making the drug available for all those who need it in this country, while the prices that the State shall pay remain excessively high. Salud por Derecho, along with the rest of the civil society in Spain and throughout the world, will continue working to make the price of this drug fair and affordableâ.