Natco seeks to block Gilead's hepatitis C drug patent in India - source

MUMBAI Thu Apr 10, 2014 8:23pm IST

A private security guard looks out from a window of the head office of Natco in Hyderabad March 13, 2012. REUTERS/Krishnendu Halder/Files

A private security guard looks out from a window of the head office of Natco in Hyderabad March 13, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Krishnendu Halder/Files

Related Topics

Stocks

   

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India's Natco Pharma Ltd (NATP.NS) has formally asked the Indian patent office to deny U.S. drugmaker Gilead Sciences Inc's (GILD.O) new hepatitis C drug Sovaldi a patent in India, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.

If successful, the move could clear the way for the Indian company to launch a cheap generic version of the drug.

Gilead, whose medicine has been hailed by doctors as a breakthrough in treating the liver-destroying disease, has come under fire over its product's $1,000 per pill price tag in the United States.

India's patent laws allow a third party to dispute the validity of a pending patent application. Natco has filed a so-called "pre-grant opposition" with the Controller General of Patents, Designs & Trademarks, said the source, who declined to be named because the information was not public yet.

It was not clear when Natco filed the opposition and Reuters could not immediately obtain a copy of the filing.

Natco Chief Executive Rajeev Nannapaneni declined to comment. Officials at Gilead and at the patent department in Mumbai were not immediately available for comment.

Natco has opposed the patent on the same grounds as New York-based Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge (I-MAK), arguing that Sovaldi is not "inventive" enough, the source told Reuters.

I-MAK, a group of lawyers and scientists, filed an opposition in November 2013 to the grant of a patent in India on Sovaldi, chemically called sofosbuvir, saying the drug uses "old science".

Natco's opposition comes amid a growing clamour by healthcare campaigners and doctors to ensure that Sovaldi and other new hepatitis C pills are made affordable in developing countries.

In the United States, some healthcare providers have described the $84,000 price tag for a 12-week course of treatment as "outrageous".

"OLD SCIENCE" CLAIM

The medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) supported I-MAK's opposition and believes a 12-week course of treatment and diagnosis should cost no more than $500, saying a high cost would put the drug out of reach to most of the 90 percent of hepatitis C patients living in low-and middle-income countries.

The World Health Organisation estimates as many as 12 million people in India, a country of more than 1.2 billion people, have hepatitis C. Other experts put the figure even higher.

Egypt, where Gilead has agreed a voluntary deal to cut its drug price by 99 percent, has the world's highest prevalence of the liver-destroying virus.

Foster City, California-based Gilead is already in talks to license Sovaldi to three or four Indian generic manufacturers, and launch the drug in India at a price of $2,000 for 24 weeks of treatment, a company executive told Reuters on Tuesday.

Indian-made generics of the drug would be available in most of sub-Saharan Africa, selected Asian countries including India, Pakistan and Myanmar, and some smaller developing nations.

Sovaldi is the first among a bunch of new hepatitis C drugs that have been shown to raise cure rates and cut treatment duration without the side-effects of current injection-based treatment regimes.

(Additional reporting by Ben Hirschler in London; Editing by Tony Munroe and Elaine Hardcastle)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (1)
Hepc_India wrote:
I Support Gilead patent in India because at least it is providing sofosbuvir at much cheaper rate as compared to the price in US. At least people who are covered through insurance may be able to get drug early. This move against patent will delay the drug delivery to people who are in urgent need. Will Natco Chief Executive Rajeev Nannapaneni take resposibility for death of peoples who will be deprived from treatment due to unnecessary delay. Why people who are covered under insurance are deprived from treatment . Mr Rajeev Nannapaneni is only fighting for people who are not insured. It is the fault of non insured people who had not insured themselves.
Mr RAJEEV NANNAPANENI if you have guts and courage then why don’t you develop a new drug through research at your own pharma company (NATCO Pharma Ltd.). May be you are opposing this patent because you could not able to struck a deal with Gilead Sciences. If not able to do so then you have no right to oppose this patent application from Gilead and depriving people of India from the treatment.

Apr 11, 2014 1:49pm IST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

REUTERS SHOWCASE

School Shooting

School Shooting

Two killed, four wounded in Washington state school shooting.  Full Article 

Sundar Pichai Elevated

Sundar Pichai Elevated

Google's Pichai to oversee major products and services.  Full Article 

Need For Reforms

Need For Reforms

Euro zone risks "relapse into recession" without structural reforms - Draghi.  Full Article 

Diwali Sales

Diwali Sales

Gold sales jump about 20 pct for Diwali - trade body  Full Article 

World Bank Rival

World Bank Rival

Three major nations absent as China launches W.Bank rival in Asia  Full Article 

Wal-Mart India

Wal-Mart India

Murali Lanka appointed as Wal-Mart India operations chief  Full Article 

Health Of Lenders

Health Of Lenders

25 European banks set to fail health checks - sources.  Full Article 

Special Report

Special Report

Why Madrid's poor fear Goldman Sachs and Blackstone  Full Article 

India Insight

India Insight

Kalki Koechlin on her role as a disabled girl in “Margarita, With a Straw”  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage