China has rejected a patent application from Gilead Sciences Inc. which is related to its expensive hepatitis C drug, as commented by an advocacy group. It was further added the action may lead other countries also to consider rejection of patent for the conflicted treatment.
Gilead has drawn criticism for the cost factor of its block buster drug Sovaldi, which is priced at US$1,000 per pill or US$84,000 for a course of twelve weeks in the United States. The patents of the drug are challenged in Europe, India, and the U.S.
The application that China has rejected was for a prodrug, which is an inactive form of the drug which is converted into the chemically active form of the compound once administered in the body, as said by the Initiatives for Medicines, Access & Knowledge based in New York.
Gilead is however, holding to the China patent of the base compound of the drug. The base patent compound is known by its generic name sofosbuvir. However, the rejection of the prodrug patent by China does not in any way open ways for copycat drugs to be manufactured in the second largest drug market in the world.
Officials based in China were not available immediately for comment. Any type of communication such as emails and phone calls made to the U.S. office of Gilead, after office hours were not answered.
The officials at State Intellectual Property Office at China, however, did not confirm about such decisions when contacted by Reuters. However, a note posted on the agency’s website commented that Gilead’s application for patent ‘nucleoside phosphramidates’, which is kind of prodrug was recently rejected.
The move from China is followed by a decision made at India’s patent office this year in January for rejection of Gilead’s patent application.