New Delhi, 30 January 2015—In response to the rejection of its key patent application earlier this month for the drug sofosbuvir, used to treat hepatitis C (HCV), US pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences has recently filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court, challenging the decision of the patent office. The next hearing on this case is scheduled to take place today, at the Delhi High Court.
Gilead’s petition sought to have the decision remanded back to the Patent Office on the grounds that there were procedural improprieties which prejudiced their case. Gilead’s patent application was opposed by the Delhi Network of Positive People (DNP+) and the Initiative for Medicines, Access and Knowledge (I-MAK), as well as a leading generic company, Natco Pharma. However, these oppositions were not considered by the patent office in its decision.
“Gilead is clutching at straws. As they have done in past cases, they are using every dirty trick in the book to deliberately creating uncertainty amongst competitors by filing a case before the Delhi High Court that claims there are procedural improprieties. The bottom line is that Gilead had ample time and even sought extensions of time (months) before their application was rejected to deal with the “procedural improprieties” they are now accusing the patent office of. If anyone should be aggrieved by the process it should be the opponents – People Living with HIV and hepatitis C – who never got a hearing. Fortunately, the Patent Office did the right thing in the end and rejected the patent, just like Egypt has done.
We are waiting to see whether the court dismisses Gilead’s petition, as we think it should. If the court tells the patent office to take the case back, we are entirely prepared, and will have the right to have our case fully heard this time. It will give us an opportunity to show that aside from Gilead’s patent application not meeting the lawful requirement for patentability (section 3(d)), it actually also lacks inventiveness. So we welcome that opportunity if the need arises.
Gilead continues to claim that their priority is to increase access to its medicines to people regardless of their origin or economic means. However, all their actions so far seem to attempt to persuade the powers to give them patents so that they can further inhibit rather than expand access to this drug. While more and more doctors are now prescribing oral drugs like sofosbuvir for hepatitis-C treatment, sadly access to these drugs is still out of reach for millions of people across the world. While that is the case we will not stand idly by.”
Vikas Ahuja, President, Delhi Network of Positive People