On 17 October 2020, twelve years after the third amendment of China’s Patent Law, the…
A long battle over the monopoly control of Hepatitis C medicine was concluded by China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO). SIPO has cancelled the Patent claims for oral drug hepatitis C drug ‘sofosbuvir’, which was earlier granted to US pharmaceutical corporation Gilead Sciences. This drug was an important medicine that was used for treatment of hepatitis C. However, this drug was highly priced, which could not be afforded by general public of various countries including China.
Due to such high price of the drug, a PIL in the name of I-MAK and Cosunter Pharmaceutical, a Chinese generic manufacturing company was filed. Consequently, Patent application held by Gilead, was cancelled by SIPO. It is pertinent to note that this particular drug hepatitis C was always in issue in other jurisdictions such as Egypt and Ukraine, which has rejected the patent. In countries like India, Brazil, Argentina, Russia, the issue regarding patentability of the drug ‘sofosbuvir’ is still pending.
However, with SIPO’s decision for cancelling Patent claim over ‘sofosbuvir’ by Gilead, Gilead loses its monopoly over the same. One of the major reasons behind cancellation of Patent of the said drug is High price. Thus, this step taken by SIPO not only mandates public good by making it available at affordable price to public at large but also invites the generic version of the drugs in the relevant market.
The decision of Chinese Patent Office can serve as a landmark pronouncement for Patent office in other jurisdiction, where Gilead’s drug has been challenged. It is high time that patent offices around the world recognize the negative impact that unmerited patents have on people and health systems.