“Doctors without borders” against patent on hepatitis drug

The organizations "doctors without borders" and "doctors of the world" are fighting against a patent on an expensive hepatitis C drug.

They have filed an opposition with the european patent office in munich against a patent on the active ingredient sofosbuvir from the u.S. Pharmaceutical company gilead. This thursday and friday, negotiations are to take place in munich. Protests with other organizations are planned for thursday in front of the patent office.

According to "doctors without borders", 90 percent of hepatitis C patients treated with sofosbuvir could be cured in twelve weeks. However, due to the european patent, gilead has a monopoly position and can set high prices for the active ingredient. A spokesman for the european patent office stressed that the trial was not about the political dimension of the debate, but only about whether the patent was rightly awarded from a purely technical point of view.

In europe, gilead charges up to 43% for a two-hole therapy, according to "arzte ohne grenzen".000 euro. The company speaks of 30.000 euro for eight weeks. In countries where sofosbuvir is not protected by patents, the treatment costs only about 52 euros, according to "doctors without borders".

A gilead spokesman emphasized that the active ingredient sofosbuvir is protected by many patents. The patent at issue has no bearing on whether the company can manufacture and sell the active ingredient exclusively in europe. If the opposition proceedings for gilead are negative, the company will take action against it because patents "are the foundation of pharmaceutical innovation".

According to the world health organization (WHO), around 71 million people worldwide are infected with hepatitis C, 399.000 patients die from it every year. 15 million people in europe are chronically infected with hepatitis C. 112 die here every year.500 patients die of liver cancer or liver cirrhosis.

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