The patents of a key HIV/Aids drug was revoked in a move that could lead to lowered prices and easier access to treatment across the developing world, including South Africa.
The US Patent & Trademark Office on January 23, 2008 revoked four key patents held by the pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences on the drug tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF), reports Medicines Sans Frontiers.
"The public interest group Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT), which challenged the patents in the US, submitted evidence that TDF was already a known substance at the time of Gilead’s application for the patents, and therefore a patent should not have been granted," and MSF report reads. The evidence used in the patent office’s ruling may have an impact on whether the drug will be granted patents in other countries.
HIV/Aids groups have filed similar patent oppositions against Gilead's patent application in both India and Brazil.
"If a patent is not granted in these countries, generic manufacturers could freely manufacture and export generic versions of TDF without restrictions, leading to greater competition and therefore lower prices," says MSF.