MNC’s demand for patent irks patients

Over the past week, hepatitis C patients have been protesting outside India’s patent office in Dwarka here, >against the American multinational pharmaceutical major Gilead Sciences and the United States government for pressuring the Indian government “to blindly and speedily grant patents”.

The patent office has been hearing the >company’s patent claim on the blockbuster drug Sovaldi, which is priced at a staggering $84,000 (about Rs.57 lakh) in the U.S.

The proceedings will have major implications for millions of hepatitis C patients across the world who will be able to access the drug if open generic production of sofosbuvir is possible in India.

“Gilead is charging exorbitant prices in many countries and using patents to block people in other countries from buying low-cost, yet equally effective versions of this medicine”, said Loon Gangte of DNP+ (Delhi Network of Positive Persons). “This is global treatment rationing. I feel like I’m back in the early days of the battle for HIV treatment, where you live or die based on where you live”, he said.

On January 14, 2014, India’s Deputy Controller General of Patents had rejected the company’s patent claim, allowing generic drug makers to manufacture affordable versions of the drug.

The verdict was set aside by the Delhi High Court on January 30.

It is estimated that 150 million people are infected by hepatitis C globally, and 700,000 die of the disease each year. Untreated, it can cause liver cirrhosis and cancer.

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Printable version | Sep 16, 2021 12:14:32 AM |

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